There is legislation currently working its way through the Congressional sausage factory that contains language based on California’s recently enacted AB-5. If you’re not familiar with what the commissars of California enacted, AB-5 essentially outlaws individuals making a living through freelance activities.
The law does not come out and say freelancing is illegal. AB-5 decrees that if an individual produces more than 30 freelance works for a company, that company must regard that individual as an employee. Which means they have to pay all the associated taxes and government-mandated benefits. The end result is that it is impossible to make a living in the state of California as a freelancer or independent contractor.
This is what is in federal legislation called the PROact. I’m not sure what the acronym is supposed to mean, but I’m pretty sure it means Personal RIghts Obliteration Act.
Almost everything I have seen written about AB-5 describes its impact on freelance writers, designers, etc as an unintended consequence of legislation designed to attack ridesharing services Uber and Lyft. I’m not buying the “unintended” bit. In part, because when some in the California legislature put forth a bill to walk back AB-5 it was voted down. Also because as noted above there is a move to impose AB-5 style regulation on the entire country.
There is nothing unintended happening here.
The term “free lance” dates back to the 1800s when it referred to mercenaries who sold the services of their lance to the highest bidder. In modern language, freelance refers to an individual who chooses not to work for a company but to sell their services based on contracts. A newspaper or magazine will hire freelance writers, companies and agencies will hire freelance designers for specific projects, Uber and Lyft hire freelance drivers. The individual is free to work for the clients they choose, on the projects they prefer at a mutually agreed-upon contractual price and terms.
The ONLY role for government is with the courts enforcing contacts and settling contractual disputes. This is not enough for power-lusting politicians. They chafe at anything that smacks of freedom. Any sliver of freedom represents a limit on their power.
I have worked as a free lance in the past and even had occasion to turn to the courts for enforcement of a contract. When the day comes, many many years from now, that I retire from working full-time I will undoubtedly become a free lance once again. Assuming companies are free to hire me on those terms.