How Freelance Writers Can Keep Up with the California Law and PRO Act
Skilled freelance writers have never been more in-demand than they are right now. Marketers are realizing that to effectively grow and thrive through today’s channels, they need unique, appealing, and action-oriented sales copy and content pieces.
For instance, a single company or organization needs a fresh, compelling website/online presence of course … plus a steady stream of blog posts, emails, ads, social media efforts, case studies, videos, and so much more to attract prospects, turn them into customers, and keep those customers happy.
Want proof that marketers recognize the importance of freelance writers?
If you look at any job board, such as Indeed.com, and type in the word “writer” … you’ll find thousands of jobs (8,861 jobs as of this writing). And that’s just based on companies posting jobs on those websites.
Other marketers may choose to post on LinkedIn, where I found 17,661 results as I write this. Let that sink in for a moment.
Many other marketers are looking, too. But instead of posting jobs, they’re simply searching online to find a skilled writer who can help them.
My point? There’s a massive need for freelance writers.
Now, you may have heard the buzz out there about your opportunities being shut down by new laws —
especially if you’re based in California or you’ve been writing for a California-based company.
If not, here’s the scoop. The 2019 California Independent Contractor Law (AB 2257), originally designed to protect “gig” workers (mainly Uber and Lyft drivers) from being exploited, included freelance journalists as well.
At that time, this law threatened to shut down the freelance writing world as we know it: blocking the ability of writers to work as independent contractors, writing for any clients we wish to help.
But if you’re concerned about this issue, take heart …
There’s good news and we hope it will continue.
While this issue is still evolving, on September 4, 2020, the California law was amended as explained in this National Review article posted in October 2020. An attorney we consulted said this,
“Under the new law, freelance writers can avoid being classified as employees if they ‘work under a written contract that specifies the rate of pay, intellectual property rights, and obligation to pay by a defined time,’ do not directly replace an employee doing the same work, and do not work primarily at the employer’s place of business.”
Two key points about the amendment:
California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who authored both AB 5 and AB 2257, acknowledged that the 2019 legislation significantly impacted California’s “freelance writers, photographers, videographers, journalists, individual musicians, the recording industry, and unions representing musicians and artists.”
In response, AB 2257 introduced amendments to exempt these creative workers, including “writers, photographers, videographers, photo editors, and illustrators.”
AB 5 created an exemption for businesses referring customers to providers in certain services. AB 2257 clarifies how a service provider certifies proper licensure …
the freedom of a service provider to maintain its own clientele, and the ability of a service provider to set or negotiate its terms with clients as well as establishing its rates without deduction by a referral agency.
Now, while this appears to be good news, we’re watching for further clarification on the definitions of freelancer vs. employee. The amendment is not specific on that matter, and freelancers must also follow Federal Laws and IRS standards that make the ”freelancer vs. employee” distinction.
We’re optimistic that events will unfold so freelancers may work as they always have; but we’ll continue to monitor the situation in California.
What about the PRO Act proposed for the United States — how does that affect freelance writers?
As you may know, before President Joe Biden took office, he made a vow that “he will work with Congress to establish a federal standard modeled on the ABC test for all labor, employment, and tax laws.” The proposed model is known as The PRO Act — ‘Protecting the Right to Organize.’
We’re watching this effort very closely as well, with the hopes that freelance writers are classified similarly to the California AP 2257 amendment.
“I want to be informed and even involved in what happens!”
If you’d like to have a voice in what happens with the PRO Act … or see how others are reporting on these events … check out these resources dedicated to active pursuit of these matters:
- Fight For Freelancers USA — described on its website as “a nonpartisan, grassroots coalition of independent contractors.”
- ASJA (The American Society of Journalists and Authors) “among the organizations suing over what the group points out are First and 14th Amendment violations in the provisions that impact journalists.”
- FlexJobs, a website offering all sorts of freelance and remote opportunities, is also a good source on the subject. Their article from November 2020 is helpful.
By following these resources, you can stay on top of what’s happening. That’s what we’ll be doing, too!
Editor’s Note: AWAI is not a legal or activist organization, or authority on these laws. We don’t offer legal advice. We’re simply letting you know what we’re seeing out there related to this subject … and we’re working to keep you informed.
Our mission is to help you thrive as a working freelance copywriter, without external limitations. If you’d like to learn more about how to gain freelance writing skills and make the most of today’s opportunities, check out The AWAI Method™ for Becoming a Skilled, In-Demand Copywriter: Master What Well-paid Freelance Copywriters and Content Writers Know.
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