ATISDA Blog (Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area)

What does AB5 hold for the future of our profession?

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Photo caption: Translation and interpretation professionals gather at a November 2019 informational session CoPTIC held in San Diego to discuss next steps for those who may be affected by the passage of AB5.

The possible implications of AB5 have been on the minds of many in our profession. ATISDA President Yolanda Secos writes the following on the subject:

On November 23, 2019, the Coalition of Practicing Translators & Interpreters of California (CoPTIC) hosted an informational session about AB5 in San Diego with many of our Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area (ATISDA) members in attendance. If you missed this important event, please read this post to learn how this bill could affect you and what you can do to support CoPTIC in their efforts to win an exemption from AB5 for interpreters and translators.

What is AB5? 

California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 18, 2019. The bill was passed without any sort of exemption for translators and interpreters. Part of the text reads:

“Existing law, as established in the case of Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles (2018) 4 Cal.5th 903 (Dynamex), creates a presumption that a worker who performs services for a hirer is an employee for purposes of claims for wages and benefits arising under wage orders issued by the Industrial Welfare Commission. Existing law requires a 3-part test, commonly known as the ‘ABC’ test, to establish that a worker is an independent contractor for those purposes.”

The “ABC” test can be found under section 2 of the bill:

2750.3. (a) (1) For purposes of the provisions of this code and the Unemployment Insurance Code, and for the wage orders of the Industrial Welfare Commission, a person providing labor or services for remuneration shall be considered an employee rather than an independent contractor unless the hiring entity demonstrates that all of the following conditions are satisfied:
(A) The person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact.

(B) The person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.

(C) The person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.”

What is CoPTIC?

The Coalition of Practicing Translators & Interpreters of California (CoPTIC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit statewide organization that advocates for the independence, integrity, and equity concerns of language professionals throughout California and the communities they serve. They are a diverse network of hundreds of court, administrative hearing, and medical certified interpreters; conference and community interpreters; translation and interpretation educators; and certified translators. They are all practicing professionals throughout the state.

How does CoPTIC intend to win an exemption from AB5 for interpreters and translators?

The sustained, systematic effort by CoPTIC requires active involvement with the lawmakers who work for everyone. By taking informed, strategic action in each district and in Sacramento, all concerned professionals can make the policy process produce the results needed for the integrity of our professions, the survival of our operations, and benefit of the communities we serve.

How can you support CoPTIC?

1. Join CoPTIC to get involved in constituency-driven advocacy. They can put you in touch with the lawmakers who work for you. The plan to win depends on your involvement and your informed voice influencing our legislators.

2. Spread the word! Follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and help keep others informed. If translators and interpreters do not get an exemption, the users of our services will also feel the impact of the new law.

3. Please consider a donation of any amount to support this effort. Because your contribution goes to support their strategic policy advocacy to protect the independence of our profession, it is not charitable or tax-deductible.

4. Take action! Communicate with and visit your lawmakers by following these steps.

Please note that I am writing this post in my capacity of president of the Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area (ATISDA). ATISDA became an affiliated group of the American Translators Association (ATA) in 2016. Since then, we have adhered to their policies and procedures and, as such, we share their ATA Position on AB 5 and Mandatory Employee Classification:

“ATA believes that California AB 5 improperly and unfairly classifies professional translators and interpreters as employees, when in fact, they are truly independent contractors by choice and work on a freelance basis with multiple clients by design. Without an exemption, this bill unduly lumps these independent professionals in with individual workers who have not made a deliberate choice to provide freelance services. The bill will also unintentionally restrict the provision of language services within the state, harming not only translators and interpreters, but the community as well. ATA strongly and urgently requests that a specific exemption be made for professional translators and interpreters.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me (Yolanda Secos) directly at

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