A bill codifying new rules on how workers are classified in California was approved by a Senate committee yesterday without listing travel advisors as exempt from the new rules, but ASTA said there are still opportunities to secure an exemption, especially as the committee made it clear the bill is far from done.

The Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee met Wednesday and approved Assembly Bill 5, which would change how workers are classified as either employees or independent contractors (ICs). It states that to be considered an IC, a worker needs to conduct business outside of what the hiring entity does.

ASTA and the California Coalition of Travel Organizations (CCTO) have been lobbying to have "sellers of travel" listed in the bill as an exempt industry.

"While the committee made some modest changes to the bill, it did not vote on individual amendments to 'carve out' specific industries like ours," ASTA said in a statement. "However, committee members made clear that a lot of work remains to be done and additional changes will be made before the deadline for the bill to pass the senate in mid-September."

ASTA was represented at the committee's hearing by Betsy Geiser, vice president of Uniglobe Travel Center, who said the Society was in favor of the bill if it was amended to exempt travel advisors. CCTO president Diane Embree, an IC with Michael's Travel Centre, also testified in favor of the bill if advisors are exempt.

The California Labor Federation, sponsor of the bill, has agreed to meet with the CCTO next week to discuss potential revisions, according to a statement from the CCTO.

An ASTA webinar to discuss its strategy going forward will be held on Tuesday, July 16.

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