California’s AB5 law was already backfiring before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The legislation intends to reclassify many California-based independent contractors as formal employees in an attempt to raise their wages and benefits. It has instead cost thousands of jobs—many of which are home-based. During a time of social distancing, working from home helps keep people safe while allowing them to stay financially afloat.
California legislators have reportedly been mulling an “oops” bill that would offer exemptions from AB5 requirements. Over in the Orange County Register, I argue that exemptions are not enough. AB5 should be repealed outright:
While offering exemptions has the virtue of requiring politicians to admit their policies are hurting people, it has three significant problems.
One, exemptions take time to process. We don’t have that right now. …
Two, the officials who grant exemptions would gain great power. There is a risk some would use this power to enrich themselves. California legislators would also be tempted to bully companies for campaign contributions by dangling AB5 exemptions.
Three, exemptions would give favored businesses a government-granted advantage over competitors.