The California Assembly Bill 5 that is expected to be in force by January 2020 adds some complexity to the relationship between companies and freelance webcam models. In some circumstances, those who worked as freelancers may be reclassified as employee. It seems like some webcam models could sue their Californian studio to become employees.
The following text is not a legal advice.
Here is the test to determine whether a business partner is an employee or a freelancer.
A – the worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of such work and in fact
Relationship between adult chat company and cam model – A is OK
The cam model is free from the control and the direction of the recruiter. The adult chat website does not order the cam model to act in a certain way. So, we can say that the clause A is confirmed between the adult chat site company and the cam model.
Relationship between studio and cam model – A is not OK
In this scenario, studio employees give orders to the webcam model during the show. In this case, a webcam model working in the premises could sue the studio company to get reclassified as an employee rather than a contractor.
It is also possible to modify the relationship between the studio and the cam models. Orders may become suggestions. This requires to change the semantics. In France, Uber eats and Deliveroo asked their employee to use special words with the freelancers to avoid issues. For example, they never call someone an employee, but they call delivery men “partners”. They don’t talk about job, but they talk about “mission” or “project”.
Outside the webcam model industry, In West Europe, some companies only hire contractors if they have a corporation. They do it to prevent being sued by a contractor and asked to reclassify a contractor as an employee. That’s why they ask contractors if they own a corporation before starting. So, For instance, in our example, we can imagine that a Californian studio could ask cam models to set up a company before working as a cam model. They could ask the camgirl to act as an LLC, S-corp or C-corp before starting. Thus, the studio would sign with a company rather than an individual. However, looking at the Californian bill, I don’t know if the studio would be protected. In Europe, to this day, we have no occurrence of a legal proceeding involving a one-man company (our version of the LLC) and a contracting company (the “hiring” company). All the legal proceedings involved freelancers who acted under their individual’s name.
Since camgirls work from the premises of studios, the line can be really thin between being a contractor and an employee.
B – the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business
Relationship between adult chat company and cam model – B is OK
An adult chat website like chaturbate, livejasmin or stripchat provides a streaming technology service to user (webcam model). On the other hand, the webcam model service is to interact with website users using the streaming technology provided.
Relationship between studio and cam model – B is OK
A webcam model’s job is to interact with users of a website. Camgirls rent Studio equipment. Those two activities are very different from each other.
C- the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity
In this case, the webcam model may work on different platform as a webcam model. The webcam model is free to work on different websites. C is ok for both the relationship between the adult chat site & the cam model // the studio and the cam model.
The california Assembly bill 5 is a problem for the studios in California. I think that studios would need to change the way they market their job. In the future, I guess that studios should look like music room rentals where you rent a musical instrument. A camgirl would book a room. She would get suggestions to help her do her job beforehand, and she will work in front of the webcam.