The idea of being classified as an employee is attractive to many linguists—health care, sick pay and other benefits will surely follow—right? Our thought is that this legislation should be considered very carefully by all affected parties.

Should it be passed, some California-based linguists might find someshort- and long-term benefits. However, others foresee that it will almost certainly accelerate the implementation of new technologies, such as VRI, which will allow interpreters in other states, and possibly overseas, to serve clients in California.

One of the difficulties in implementing laws like this is that many of the consequences are not always clear. For the Spanish interpreter who works in a large hospital or county health department, there will probably be no changes, since they are usually full-time employees already.

For the Spanish interpreter with several agency clients, they may find themselves having a more carefully controlled full-time schedule working for just one client, or having several part-time jobs ensuring that that their weekly hours do not qualify for full-time benefits, usually no more than 30 hours, but sometimes less.

For the Hindi interpreter who works with many agencies in different counties, each of the agencies would have to decide if they wanted to bear the employment burden for a handful of assignments throughout the year. In the end, this legislation could make work harder to find, particularly for linguists working in languages of lesser diffusion like many Southeast Asian and African languages.

Of course, employment taxes will be collected, and the taxes collected for a person with several part time jobs will be higher than a person with just one job. Companies could decide to simply decline assignments for languages with infrequent demand.

Many client companies are averse to hiring individuals as independent contractors because of the time required to sign a contract and the risk of something going wrong in an employment audit. These companies often want the linguist to be employed by a third party—a language company—with the freedom to end the relationship as needed. This is essentially the same arrangement as working for a temp agency. Is this bad? It depends—some clients and temp agencies are willing to pay well, but some are in a race to the bottom.

But what if many states all pass the same kind of laws? Similar legislation in other states will not have a significant impact, since only the Federal government can regulate interstate commerce. Is there any chance that congress would act on this issue?

What is your opinion? How would this legislation affect you? Share your opinion and story with us and write us an e-mail: Spotlight@InterpreterEd.com

We encourage you to get informed and read more about Dynamex by reading the following links:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/5/30/18642535/california-ab5-misclassify-employees-contractors

https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/California-Assembly-passes-gig-work-bill-13904777.php?psid=8MFUT

https://slator.com/industry-news/us-language-industry-intensifies-lobbying-against-independent-contractor-ruling/

The ATA has not taken a position, but you can read more here: http://www.atanet.org/chronicle-online/none/the-dynamex-decision-and-atas-advocacy-role/#sthash.182AAW86.dpbs

The California Chamber of Commerce’s input: https://advocacy.calchamber.com/2018/08/16/im-independent-coalition-rally-urges-legislators-to-protect-independent-contractors/

California Labor Federation: https://calaborfed.org/whats-the-real-story-on-dynamex/