Following the California Supreme Court decision in Dynamex Operations v. Superior Court, 4 Cal. 5th 903 (2018), which identified the "ABC Test" for worker classification for the purposes of California's wage and hour determinations under the IWC Wage Orders, and now with the passage and signing into law of Assembly Bill 5 (Gonzales) (2019 Cal ALS 296, 2018 Cal AB 5, 2019 Cal Stats. ch. 296.), which extended the Dynamex ABC Test to apply in workers' compensation insurance and EDD payroll tax determinations of status, we have been inundated with questions and issues arising out of these significant changes to California worker classification law. I have also noticed that California businesses and some experienced California practitioners are misinformed, or simply mistaken, about some elements of AB 5 and its potential effects on California businesses, independent contractors, and employees.
On October 2, 2019, the Governor of California approved Assembly Bill 170, which details the alternative test for workers to be classified as Independent Contractors within professions that are specifically excluded from the provisions of Assembly Bill 5, which was approved last month. Workers under AB 5 are presumed to be employees unless the hiring entity demonstrates that their workers pass the 3-part "ABC" test from Dynamex Operations W. Inc. v. Superior Court, (2018) 4 Cal.5th 903, as discussed previously here. Certain professions, however, such as licensed insurance agents, direct sales salespersons, and real estate licensees, are excluded from the ABC test, and instead worker classification in those professions will be determined by conditions set forth in S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations, (1989) 48 Cal.3d 341, namely:
With the California Governor's approval of Assembly Bill No. 5 on September 18, 2019, worker classification law in the state has changed significantly by codifying the "ABC" test established in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, 4 Cal.5th 903 (2018). A person who provides labor or services for remuneration is now presumed to be an employee for purposes of claims for wages and benefits, unless the hiring entity can demonstrate that:
Effective January 1, 2019, under California Labor Code Section 2810.4, customers of certain port trucking companies may be held liable for unpaid wages due to commercial truck drivers, as well as any related assessments. According to the DLSE:
January 24, 2019 Update: On January 17, 2019, Assembly Bill AB 71 (Melendez) (seeking to statutorily supersede the narrow holding in Dynamex, by codifying the widely accepted factors in Borello) was referred to the Assembly Committee on Labor & Employment. Assembly Bill AB 5 (Gonzales) (seeking to codify Dynamex and clarify the decision's application in state law) is an active bill and pending referral to a committee.
The long-anticipated case Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, was issued on April 30, 2018. The case dealt with whether delivery drivers classified as independent contractors were misclassified as such under California Industrial Wage Commission Wage Order No. 9-2001.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released a report finding that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has failed to notify the majority of individuals they found to be victims of employment identity theft. When an identity thief uses another individual's information to obtain employment, the victim may have taxes computed based on income they did not personally earn, and may experience other difficulties. The IRS has a computer-based process to notify victims of the issue, but due to a programming error related to a decision to notify only newly identified victims, the IRS failed to notify over 450,000 individuals for processing year 2017. In addition, over 15,000 individuals who did receive notice (13.5 percent of the total group notified) were not actually victims of employment identity theft.
The Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act of 2017, which aims to make a person's wages and other remuneration subject to income tax only in the employee's state of residence and the state where the employee was physically present and performed employment duties for more than 30 calendar days, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on June 20, 2017. Employers will not have state income tax withholding or reporting requirements for employees who do not fit these criteria. Certain classes of workers will not be considered employees for the purposes of this bill, including professional athletes and entertainers; film and video production employees; and prominent public figures providing services on a per-event basis. The U.S. Senate Committee on Finance currently has the proposed bill under review. Click here to track its progress.
In January, 2015, the California Supreme Court granted review of Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court (Lee) (2014) 230 Cal.App.4th 718.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced on June 7, 2017 that the Department will no longer follow the informal guidance issued as Administrator Interpretation Letters in 2015 and 2016 regarding joint employment and independent contractors [here], signaling an easing of the federal guidance on the use of contract labor. According to its press release, "The Department will continue to fully and fairly enforce all laws within its jurisdiction, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act." To read the full press release, click here.