California permits extra exemptions from landmark labor regulation

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California allows more exemptions from landmark labor law

California is exempting two dozen other professions from a landmark labor law aimed at treating more people like employees rather than contractors, according to a bill that Governor Gavin Newsom signed on Friday.

The changes, which come into effect immediately, put an end to what lawmakers have called impractical limits on the services of freelance writers and still photographers, photojournalists and freelance editors, and newspaper cartoonists. It includes safeguards to ensure that current employees are not replaced.

The new measure also exempts various artists and musicians, as well as some who work in the insurance and real estate industries.

San Diego Democratic MP Lorena Gonzalez, who primarily drafted the original measure, said the new law "creates a balance and continues to protect workers from misclassification that had not been reviewed under the old rules for decades."

The law, which went into effect this year, was primarily aimed at giants Uber and Lyft fighting it in court, in a move voters will consider in the November election.

Unlike contractors, workers who are considered employees are entitled to the minimum wage and benefits, including overtime, sick leave and reimbursement.

However, numerous contractors have stated that they have been included in a legal definition that could end their livelihood.

Gonzalez also negotiated the additional professions that are now exempt. A role that Republican lawmakers say will enable the state to effectively select winners and losers. She said the new version "makes a clear distinction between employer-employee relationships and professionals who run their own independent businesses."

The new exceptions include visual artists, freelance writers, translators, editors, content authors, consultants, storytellers, cartographers, producers, editors, illustrators and newspaper cartoonists who work under written contracts.

Exceptions will be made for musicians who perform live in engagements, for sound recordings or music compositions, for insurance inspectors, real estate appraisers and inspectors, for sellers of prefabricated houses, for youth sports coaches, for people who are engaged by an international exchange visitor program, and for competition judges added. This also excludes advice or animal services, as well as landscape architects and professional foresters.

Newsom has not yet responded to a second bill that would extend a year-long exemption for newspaper companies that would allow them to continue to treat newspaper suppliers as contractors.

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