This year, Santas in California are facing work issues not only from the pandemic—but also from California AB5, a new controversial independent contractor law. AB5 makes it so that most workers fall under the umbrella of “employees,” mandates workers should be classified as such, and entitles workers classified as employees to greater labor protections. AB5 came into effect on Jan. 1st of this year, but a wide range of independent contractors and freelancers — including writers, interpreters, performing artists, and even horse handlers — said that the law hindered, rather than protected, them. That has included many performers who make their living as Santa or Mrs. Claus, the kind of role that by its very nature will not be a full-time job.
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