By Fiona Lee, featuring Kelsey Bolar, Senior Policy Analyst at Independent Women’s Forum

This year, there’s something new on the naughty list for many Santas across California: AB5, the controversial independent contractor law that is keeping many of them from working.

The pandemic, they say, is hiding how AB5 is continuing to hurt them. Directed at gig-economy giants like Uber, Lyft and Doordash, AB5 was meant to protect independent and gig workers, providing them with benefits and preventing exploitation. It came into effect on Jan. 1st of this year, but a wide range of independent contractors and freelancers — including writers, interpreters, performing artists, and even horse handlers — said that the law hindered, rather than protected, them.

“Policy makers need to recognize the many different reasons why people choose to work independently,” says Kelsey Bolar, a senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Forum.

Bolar says the law has had a devastating effect on many independent workers, and the pandemic has exacerbated and taken away opportunities right when workers need more flexibility, not less.

“We need diversity in opportunities,” she argues, “and one of those should be the basic fundamental freedom to work for yourself. Who is the government to say that I can’t go out there and work for myself?”

“If AB5 is bad for Santa Claus, it’s safe to assume it’s bad for everyone,” she says.

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