Earlier this year, California effectively reclassified an estimated 1 million independent contractors as employees, requiring them to receive benefits such as sick time, paid family leave and health insurance. As this legislation goes into effect, my Twitter feed has been blowing up with stories of friends and colleagues all over the country whose freelance contracts are being torn up by California media companies because they can’t afford to keep them on.
Most of you have nothing to fear in terms of what’s known as AB 5, since real estate professionals were among the many groups carved out of this legislation, but there is a larger context to be aware of. In an effort to save workers from being exploited, lawmakers all over the country are considering rules that could dampen the gig economy. But as someone who has freelanced myself, has seen many colleagues build viable careers out of this way of life, and who has written for and about those who find success as independent contractors, I see a way of life that’s being unfairly maligned.
Now, that’s not to say that going it alone is easy. Healthcare, taxes, budgeting and time management are all arguably harder when there isn’t a corporation handling them for you. But it can be done, and that’s what the people in this issue’s cover story are here to demonstrate.
There are many people out there who don’t believe you can do it and would rather see everyone in the country categorized as employees. But I’ve never been a black-and-white type of person, and I’m guessing — just based on the fact that you’re in real estate where, as one of our sources says in this issue’s feature, “There’s a lot of gray,” — that you’re not either.
So let’s celebrate the people who make independence work for them, and help the people who need to learn how to run their business like a business. And if you have thoughts on smart ways to make this economy work for you, send them over to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.