Freelance news roundup

Here’s a new weekly feature: A roundup of recent articles and columns about freelancing. I’ll include anything though-provoking or important related to freelancing or the gig economy — news, opinion, laments, jokes, Twitter fights, you name it. Read on for the first edition, which is heavy on a one particular topic…

ALL ABOUT CALIFORNIA’S NEW GIG-ECONOMY LAW

I imagine many of you may have been following the brouhaha inspired by the new California law called AB5. A piece in The Hollywood Reporter has been making the rounds online and set off a crazy spat on Twitter between a CA lawmaker and a freelance writer.

Here’s some other writing on this topic that clarifies and deepens the conversation:

This article talks about how the law is actually a method of clarifying a California Supreme Court decision that impacts those in the gig economy. The restrictions that journalists are complaining about are actually an attempt to exempt them from the stringent anti-gigging stipulations of that statewide law. It’s a poorly executed attempt. But, as the article says, “It is an imperfect solution, but it’s something.” 

Here’s a basic explainer of the law, which points out that this will have the biggest effect on those who work in the gig economy through app-based employment.  

This article reiterates a lot of what is said elsewhere. I included it as a nice overview, and also because it makes this salient point:

“The issues about AB 5 raised by freelancers may also point to the limitations of states trying to enact wide-ranging social legislation on their own. Laws like California’s are under consideration in New York and Illinois, and Massachusetts started clamping down on the misclassification of employees as independent contractors in 1990. But these rules would be more effective if enacted at the federal level, to prevent employers from evading them by shopping for workers in other states.”

This article offers a really good round-up of a lot of the reporting and commentary about the new law. One interesting tidbit it includes is a claim by Veena Dubal, an associate professor of law at the University of California Hastings, that many freelance journalists would actually be considered exempt from this law due to specifics of the full California labor code. Her Twitter thread on this topic is here.

This articles talks a bit more in-depth about how this law will affect publishers. Here’s an interesting part:

“While a large number of freelance writers and content creators live in California — around 30,000 are designated as writers, editors, journalists, correspondents, or media and communication workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — AB5’s strictures will not apply to all of them. In the case of some publishers, it will only affect a small number of workers. For example, a source at one publisher said that only about 20% of its freelance writers were from California, and that fewer than half of them produced more than that 35-article limit. But those workers tend to be particularly valuable ones: A source at a second publisher said that just a small handful of people, under 10 people, accounted for a third of the content produced by its freelancer writers, who total close to 80 people.”

A FEW OTER INTERESTING READS

As freelancing goes mainstream, more companies are dedicating staff time to managing the work of independent contractors. It seems that it’s jumping the gun to say there is a whole new spate of “chief freelance officers” running around, but it’s definitely true that there are people out there functioning in that role.

“’The chief freelance officer is no more than a buzzword, and few people are calling themselves that,’ according to the summary. ‘However, in every company that has succeeded in working with freelancers, someone is assuming this position.’”

This piece talks about how people are increasingly turning to freelancing in part because of an antagonism toward the structures and strictures of corporate life.

Here’s a quote: “There is growing anti-corporate sentiment among freelancers. When half of US freelancers say they would never return to a traditional corporate work, you know something is wrong with the job design, corporate culture and how companies treat staff.”

This is a letter to the editor at Financial Times from Dena McCallum a founding partner of London-based management consulting firm Eden McCallum. Her letter responds to a Financial Times article called “Women going freelance face bigger gender pay gap,” which reports that the gender pay gap is even bigger in freelancing than in full-time employment. McCallum says surveys by her company show that for some high-level freelancers and consultants, being self-employed actually significantly closes the gender pay gap.

Here’s a snippet of her comment: “In our experience, talented women professionals can achieve both better pay and greater job satisfaction when they enjoy the flexibility to manage their own working lives. Freelancing for many women is a huge win — professionally, personally and financially — and it would be a shame to discourage women from making this liberating leap into an independent career.”

Hear hear! Thanks for speaking up, Ms. McCallum.

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