The New Jersey State Senate is introducing an amendment to a proposed independent contractor bill that could carve out an exemption for travel agents.
On Friday, Nov. 22, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney “said he will be making changes to the bill (S-4204)” so that it will reflect the current rules that permit travel advisor ICs.
According to the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA), under the proposed amendment, S-4204 would restore, for the most part, the core elements of the current so-called ABC test that the state currently uses to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor.
“Specifically, the “B” part of the test will be changed back to the version in current law, which allows New Jersey travel agencies to satisfy this element of the three-part test if “the service is performed outside of all the places of business of the employer for which the service is performed,” the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) said in a note to its members this week.
Those rules support travel agent independent contractors, and according to the NJBIA would look like this:
A: be free from control or direction over the performance of that service, both under the contract of service and in fact; and
B: do work outside the usual course of the business for which the service is performed or the service is performed outside the all places of business of the employer; and
C: be customarily engaged in an independently established business or enterprise of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.
“In our letter to Senator Sweeney earlier this month, we asked that his bill ‘be amended to clearly state that workers engaged to sell travel in our industry will be evaluated under the current ‘ABC’ standard which has been placed in New Jersey for many years,’” ASTA said.
A recent ASTA grassroots campaign over the past few weeks generated 490 messages to New Jersey legislators. ASTA thanked Rick Ardis of Ardis Travel in East Rutherford, a member of the ASTA Board of Directors, for his work with Senator Sweeney’s office.
“We will continue to watch the process closely and make sure that the final legislation protects the independent advisor model that has existed in our industry for decades, and will keep you updated every step of the way,” ASTA said.
Even with the good news, some experts remain concerned. Mike Wallace, NJBIA Vice President said he remained concern about the ‘C’ portion of the ABC test, which requires contractors to be “customarily engaged in an independently established business or enterprise of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.
“How that provision will be interpreted is unclear, however,” the NJBIA said.
Since the bill was introduced, a growing cohort of New Jersey state legislators expressed their opposition to the bill if it hurts freelancers.
State Senator Vin Gopal (D-11) told a local news outlet Friday that “As written, this bill would be devastating to freelance photographers, journalists, truck drivers and even babysitters,” Gopal said in a phone interview. “I am a NO on the bill in its current form.”