Everyone knows the impact and opportunity of the new gig economy. So many of us, it seems, now have side hustles earning extra money. And nowhere is the gig economy larger and more important than in California.
Many workers, though, have found that the gig economy exposes them to costs that employees do not incur and losses that employees do not suffer. Gig work isn’t a bed of roses. Self-employment taxes, health insurance, work-related transportation, and other costs can quickly eat up the gig worker’s profit.
Nothing highlights the difference between gig work and employment more than a workplace injury. Gig workers do a lot of dangerous work–especially in ride-sharing, delivery, and other services that require long hours on Southern California’s busy roads, where an accident injury may be just around the next corner. Many other gig workers can suffer injuries on the job, doing security, custodial, repair, attendant-care, and other work.
Employees injured on the job receive worker’s comp work-loss and medical-expense benefits. Independent contractors do not generally receive worker’s comp. Those benefits can be a huge difference. Gig workers, though, often aren’t exactly independent of the app services or other contract companies through which they work. They may follow detailed rules on the manner and means of their work, suggesting that they are instead employees.
California has enacted three successive waves of law over the past year addressing whether gig workers get comp benefits. Under these new laws, The Work Injury Advocate aggressively represents Southern California gig workers and other workers’ comp claimants fighting for comp benefits.
Formerly, before the new laws, California used a manner-and-means test to determine whether a worker was an employee or independent contractor for worker’s compensation purposes. If the employer controlled the manner and means of the work, then the worker was an employee. California case law interpreted that definition broadly for worker’s compensation purposes, consistent with the remedial nature of worker’s comp benefits.
Advocates for gig workers, though, felt that the control test left gig workers exposed. The California legislature responded with a comprehensive law taking effect January 1, 2020, substituting a new ABC test for the former control test. The generous ABC test makes a worker an employee unless the worker is (A) free from employer control, (B) works outside the employer’s usual business, and (C) customarily engages in the business of the work performed.
California voters, though, liking their app-based gig services, opposed in part the generous new ABC test. They promptly approved Proposition 22, exempting app-based ride-sharing and delivery services from the ABC test. Taking the voters’ hint, the California legislature then amended its comprehensive law to exempt other workers from the ABC test.
These exemptions, though, don’t mean that gig workers are all once again independent contractors. On the contrary, the question simply returns to the former manner-and-means test for employer control.
Get Skilled Advocacy
What these laws mean for the gig worker injured on the job is to get skilled advocacy from the experienced workers’ compensation counsel at The Work Injury Advocate. Just because you are a gig worker, do not assume that you have no worker’s compensation rights. The law may entitle you to worker’s comp work-loss, medical-expense, and other benefits.
Our one goal at The Work Injury Advocate is to ensure that you receive the worker’s compensation benefits to which California law entitles you. From our Tarzana-area office, we fight throughout Southern California for those who suffer workplace injuries, including those injured doing gig work. Contact us online or call (323) 364-2409 for your free initial analysis. Retain counsel from The Work Injury Advocate on a contingency fee, meaning you pay nothing other than out of your recovery.