California employers, are you aware that a new law will deny your right to hire who you want? If AB-5 passes (it’s up for vote before January 31), your right to hire a new employee of your choice will be restricted. You will be forced to offer all new work opportunities first to existing nonexempt employees within in your organization.
Called The Opportunity to Work Act, AB-5 is a well-intentioned bill that is meant to prevent employers from hiring only part-time people in an effort to avoid offering full-time benefits. However, the bill will have harmful effects on employers and job seekers alike. AB-5 will prohibit you, the employer, from hiring workers, utilizing temporary workers, or contracting out, unless and until offer of extra hours has been made to existing nonexempt employees. It will allow an employee to bring a private right of action against the employer for failure to comply.
As we’ve pointed out over the past few years, having the choice to hire a contract worker provides you with many benefits. Not only can you bring in a temporary specialist to help you meet urgent deadlines, but you gain the scalability and flexibility of being able to bring in professionals just when you need them–and no more. AB-5 removes your right to do what’s best for you.
Also, when you employ a contract worker, the employment agency – not you – becomes the temp worker’s employer. The staffing agency is responsible for the financial burden of recruiting, screening, testing, and hiring workers; payroll expenses and paperwork; payroll and withholding taxes; unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance; and any employee benefits they may wish to provide. AB-5 would force you to offer extra hours first to part-time workers. This begs the question, are you prepared to pay the expenses of another full-time employee (benefits, vacation pay, etc.)? And do all part-time employees really want to work full-time, or do many consider part-time hours a perk?
AB-5 would force you to offer any extra project work hours or temporary or part-time job opening to existing nonexempt workers. Who’s to decide whether those employees are actually qualified for the responsibilities of the project or job? It should be you. But what if the employee you reject doesn’t like your decision? He or she can bring a private right of action against you for failure to comply with AB-5.
This new law will deny your right to hire who you want. Would you like to protect your business from unwanted and unnecessary government regulation? Do you feel you should be able to choose to whom you can offer employment? Then find your assemblymen and write or call them.
Here’s what I just wrote to my assemblymen:
Please vote NO on AB-5. This bill denies new employment opportunities for the unemployed, including people entering the workforce for the first-time, re-entering the workforce after a period away, veterans, and those needing job experience. AB-5 creates expectation on existing part-time workers to work full-time whether they want to or not. It also disallows employers to manage short-term workload increases in an effective manner, prevents their bringing in new, more qualified personnel, and exposes employers to litigation. It also hurts employment agencies that exist to help employers find qualified employees and advocate for those seeking employment.
Too often, we aren’t even aware of laws that are being passed that affect our day-to-day rights. If you don’t like the fact that this new law will deny your right to hire who you want, make your voice heard.
Update January 18, 2018: Apparently, a lot of people reached out to their local legislators to put this potentially damaging piece of legislation to bed! Assemblywoman Gonzalez-Fletcher declined to take her bill up for a vote in her Assembly Appropriations Committee.
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