(New York, NY) – As California’s legislature advances a bill meant to reclassify contract workers as employees, PEN America today cautioned that the bill could have unintended consequences for  writers, journalists, and other creative professionals in the gig economy.

News media advocates have already expressed concern that freelance journalists could be subject to some of the bill’s provisions.

“Absent amendment to allow freelancers the flexibility to opt out of the law’s classification, the bill actually stymies opportunity for those who might otherwise benefit from working on a contract basis,” said Nora Benavidez, director of U.S. free expression programs at PEN America. “Writers, journalists, artists, and other creative professionals often enjoy great latitude as contractors. Now, news outlets may no longer be able to pay an artist to write a review of an art show or pay a community resident to attend and cover a local planning meeting. As the bill approaches the assembly and possibly the governor’s desk in California, state leaders would be wise to consider the unintended consequences this sets up for employers and for freelance workers.”

PEN America works across the country and in Washington on advocacy to defend press freedom. Learn more about our work around the country.