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:
A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel presided over by Frederic Block recently issued its opinion in Vasquez, et al. v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc., finding that the "ABC test" for worker classification adopted last year in Dynamex Ops. W. Inc. v. Superior Court should apply retroactively to all wage-and-hour cases in California.
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 U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently launched the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) program, which is designed to quickly resolve unintentional minimum wage violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) without penalty to qualified participants. Workers will benefit by swiftly receiving back wages that are owed, and employers can get into compliance without paying penalties. Employers must act quickly, however, since the pilot program is scheduled to end in about six months.
Since 1990, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) has retained the statutory authority to issue penalties for failure to file Forms W-2 and/or 1099. Until this year, effective January 1, 2018, taxpayers assessed the steepest of those penalties, Unemployment Insurance Code section 13052.5, did not have a right to petition the assessment. However, since enactment of Assembly Bill 1695 on July 24, 2017, and effective January 1, 2018, Section 13052.5 is now petitionable before the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.
In January, 2015, the California Supreme Court granted review of Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court (Lee) (2014) 230 Cal.App.4th 718.