Video remote interpreting is critical to communication in the era of the coronavirus. Without it, non-English speakers would be unable to receive a fair trial in the American justice system and business leaders would lack the capability to coordinate their company’s activities. However, legislation recently passed in California threatens to hurt the video remote interpreting industry in the state.
Video Remote Interpreting and the AB5 Law
Passed in September 2019, California’s AB5 Law is a piece of legislation that affects the status of independent contractors in the California. According to the law, employers are required to consider independent contractors as employees. By doing so, these workers are able to access benefits that normal employees enjoy, such as higher wages and retirement plans. In this sense, it is very helpful to those working for companies like Uber and Lyft, who form a sizeable chunk of California’s gig economy.
Nevertheless, those in the California remote interpreting services industry have taken issue with this new law. Because the interpreting industry in the state and in other parts of the country is dependent on interpreters who serve as independent contractors, many interpreters have been affected. This is due to the fact that because independent interpreters must be considered as normal employees, many interpretation companies have been forced to lay off interpreters or look outside of the state for other interpreters in order to not strain their budgets.
Additionally, many interpreters find that the new law unnecessarily constrains their freedom. One of the major perks of working as an independent interpreter or translator is the ability to work on one’s own terms. By working in this manner, interpreters can take on interpreting projects from many different clients or companies without committing to a normal 9-to-5 position. Because California’s AB5 Law classifies them as normal employees, this flexibility in being able to choose your hours is no longer feasible. As a result, many interpreters have decided to leave the industry or find a different line of work. Clearly, California’s AB5 Law has deeply impacted the video remote interpreting services industry.
Hope for Video Remote Interpreting in California
There is still hope for saving the remote interpreting industry in California, though. California Senate Bill 900 would amend the AB5 Law in order to prevent remote interpreting companies from hiring phone interpreter services from out of state, thus helping California’s telephone interpreting community find work. Although this bill has recently been put on hold, it is still up for consideration in California. Hopefully, in time, it can be approved and help an industry still reeling from the coronavirus to recover.