California’s AB5 Leaves Women Business Owners Reeling

Sunday, January 19, 2020 - 3:00pm

Aimee Benavides has built a thriving career as a translator and interpreter while homeschooling her nine-year-old daughter, who has autism, and 11-year-old son, who is heavily involved in STEM enrichment classes. What makes it all possible is the home-based business she started in 2010, after leaving a full-time job in the court system. 

It isn’t easy to juggle it all. Sometimes she starts work at 5:30 am to get her work done—or brings her son to the school board meetings where she takes on evening projects. “The times I don’t take my son with me, they ask, ‘How is your son?’” she says.

Still, Benavides would not trade the flexibility of self-employment for a traditional job. Benavides’ business allows her and her husband, an IT professional, to afford the cost of living in Fresno, Calif., while still permitting them to manage their family responsibilities.  

Benavides is one of a number of self-employed women in California who are speaking out in opposition to AB5, a union-backed law aimed at preventing misclassification of gig workers that took effect on January 1. The law presumes that every worker in the state—except those on a list of exempted industries, such as physicians, accountants, architects and engineers—is an employee.