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Independent Contractor Controversy At State Capitol

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Last year a state Supreme Court decision changed the employment status of hundreds of thousand California workers.

Some are in support and some are not.

"I've done 5,000 rides and I can't think of one that I've had a bad experience with," said Chris Labrada.

He has been driving for Lyft for more than a year and likes working when he wants.

"If there's anything more important that I love about Lyft it's the flexibility," he said.

Now the college student is concerned the proposed new law could conflict with his schedule.

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"I don't have to worry about work stresses, I can focus on work and get those good grades," he said.

If passed and signed into law, the bill would require, with some exceptions, businesses that currently use independent contractors to hire them as employees.

"I think it's a misconception that employment can't be flexible," Daniela Urban with Center for Workers Rights.

Supporters of the bill say many workers are already being treated as employees but without the benefits.

"Independent contractors are not covered by minimum-wage laws or worker's compensation or overtime or health and safety regulations, whereas employees are covered by those minimum employment standards," Urban said.

Some business owners including Assemblyman Brian Dahle are concerned it could lead to employers eliminating jobs to reduce red tape.

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"In this case, they will be employees, so now we will have to put them on the payroll and do payroll taxes and our business we need them just for a short time," Dahle said

The bill does offer exemptions for a number of professions including insurance and real estate agents, doctors, direct salespersons, and cosmetologists.

It's a debate between flexibility versus employment fairness that could soon be decided by capitol lawmakers.

"I'm very concerned about my neighbors and my business and the thousands of small businesses that pay independent contractors that fall into that category," Dahle said, who is also a farmer.

The bill passed the assembly and will head to the Senate.

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