Video remote interpreting is essential to communication in the coronavirus era. Without its help, non-English speakers would not receive a fair trial in the American justice system and international business leaders would be unable to operate effectively. However, California’s AB5 Law is poised to greatly harm the video remote interpreting industry in the state.
Video Remote Interpreting and the AB5 Law
California’s AB5 Law, passed in September 2019, addresses the classification of independent contractors in the state. Under the law, employers must classify independent contractors as employees. As a result, these workers can access benefits that normal employees enjoy, such as retirement and healthcare benefits. In this sense, it is very helpful for Uber and Lyft drivers, independent contractors vital to California’s gig economy.
Nevertheless, many members of the in the California remote interpreting services community are displeased with this legislation. The interpreting industry in California and in other parts of the country depends on interpreters who serve as independent contractors, Because independent interpreters must be considered as normal employees in the state, many interpretation companies have had no choice but to fire interpreters or look outside of the state for other interpreters in order to cut costs.
Additionally, many interpreters find that the new law significantly restricts their freedom. Working as an independent interpreter or translator allows industry professionals to work on their own terms by accepting interpreting projects from many different clients or companies without committing to a traditional 9-to-5 job. Due to the fact that California’s AB5 Law classifies interpreters as normal employees, this flexibility in being able to choose their hours and projects is no longer feasible. Therefore, many interpreters have chosen to exit the industry and begin a new career. Clearly, California’s AB5 Law has wreaked havoc on the video remote interpreting services industry and, without proper intervention, could destroy the industry in the state.
Hope for Video Remote Interpreting in California
Nevertheless, the remote interpreting industry in California can still be saved. California Senate Bill 900 proposes to change the AB5 Law in order to prevent remote interpreting companies from hiring out-of-state phone interpreter services, helping members of California’s telephone interpreting community find work. Though the passage of this bill has been recently delayed, it is still up for consideration in the state. Hopefully, in time, it can be approved and help an industry still reeling from the coronavirus to recover.
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