By BRIAN W. JONES
Kristyn Hansen used to cut hair in Los Angeles nine hours a day, three days a week. She told the Los Angeles Times that she earned a 60% share of an $18 haircut and served around 30 clients a day. Her husband carried their health insurance. She said her job’s flexibility allowed her to take five college courses and still live a comfortable life.\
This was all possible because Hansen is an independent contractor.
However, that workplace flexibility has been all but eliminated by the courts.
In April 2018, a California Supreme Court decision (Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court) upended how California defines an independent contractor. As a result, contractors such as Kristyn can no longer work with the flexibility she prefers and now she is earning less.
In response to the Dynamex decision, many employers have been forced to change their operations, eliminating the flexibility and stability that many independent contractors want.
To offset the increased expenses of payroll taxes, sick leave, vacation and other benefits, employers generally find they have to cut people or pay.
In Kristyn’s case, her employers now require her to work four days a week, have reduced her share per haircut to 15% and provide her a $15-an-hour salary. This amounts to about a $300 decrease in her weekly take-home pay from her original contractual agreement.
Unfortunately, millions of California workers are being forced to adjust to this new reality. The post-Dynamex law jeopardizes the livelihoods of contractors from such diverse industries such as barbering and cosmetology, education, health care, construction, technology, media and entertainment.
As California’s affordability problem worsens, many young adults see few options other than to leave the state for employment opportunities. The Dynamex decision will add to that outflow, unduly and negatively impacting California’s young and diverse workforce, who increasingly prefer the flexibility and control that freelancing and independent contracting provides.
According to a 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics Economic report, 79% of independent contractors prefer their work situation to traditional employment.
California’s elected officials now have a very important decision to make, that of whether or not to continue allowing workers the choice — their choice — to be an employee or an independent contractor.
There’s a measure pending in the Legislature — Assembly Bill 5 — that would arbitrarily carve out politically favored vocations from the Dynamex ruling but still keep other struggling vocations under tight restrictions. I soon will be reviewing this measure as it comes to me for a vote.
Please always feel free to let me know your thoughts on this issue by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Sen. Brian W. Jones is chair of the Senate Republican Caucus and was elected to the California state Senate in 2018 representing the 38th Senate District which includes Alpine, Escondido, Lemon Grove, El Cajon, La Mesa, Santee, Poway, San Marcos, Lakeside, Valley Center, Rancho Santa Fe, Julian, Ramona, Rancho San Diego, Bonsall, Fallbrook, Borrego Springs, and parts of the city of San Diego.