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The PRO Act is Threatening Freelance Gigs

Active Member
Kyler R Member Since: Nov 16, 2015
1 of 6



I was just looking into the PRO Act legislation that will nullify freelance writing jobs if passed by the Senate. Basically, the IRS classification of independent worker is being changed to a 1930s Depression Era law called the ABC Test. You will not be able to file a 1099 unless:


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; and

B: The person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and

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.


To translate, no 1099 unless all three of the following:

A: You are not directly being supervised while writing.
B: The company you are writing for cannot be a company that normally publishes articles.
C: You have to primarily write for a living.

This means that a freelance journalist could not file a 1099 to write for a newspaper. An editor could not look over a play manuscript and file a 1099. They would have to be hired as workers, health benefits and all.

Thoughts? I would post more information but most of the relevant links are from competitor sites and would get deleted. Mainstream media is reporting this as a civil rights issue and not covering this from a freelance writer's angle. From what I've read, when this was passed in California, all of the companies in the state stopped hiring independent contractors, not wanting to risk the penalties for improperly filing under the new ABC Test rules. 


Active Member
Peggy P Member Since: Jun 1, 2019
2 of 6

First of all, the PRO Act will never pass the Senate - there aren't enough Republican votes.


But even if it did, the law would not threaten freelance gigs. I've posted a  link to one of the best articles I've read on this topic, titled: "No, the PRO Act Wouldn't 'Kill' Freelancing."


A snippet: " ... these articles demonstrate a deep misunderstanding of labor law, invoking themes of forced unionization and ruined careers. These predictions are unfounded. The ABC test, if passed as part of the PRO Act, would only affect the analysis of employee vs. independent contractor status for the purposes of the NLRA."

Active Member
Elizabeth P Member Since: Sep 23, 2019
3 of 6

But even if this only applies to people who want to unionize others are saying that companies may misunderstand how to apply this ruling and avoid hiring freelancers or get rid of their independent contractors as was seen in CA. 

Community Guru
Mary W Member Since: Nov 10, 2014
4 of 6

I'm a paralegal, not a writer.  I have a longtime (non-Upwork) client who is a lawyer in California.  I live in Mississippi.  As of January, 2020, in an overabundance of caution, he made me a part time hourly employee even though the California law has some sort of carve-out for law firms.  That's my experience which is very different from writers.  I do medical chronologies primarily and his very small firm does not have a paralegal per se and his clients will not pay for attorneys to do certain work.

Community Guru
Amanda L Member Since: Jan 23, 2018
5 of 6
You know the IRS already uses the ABC test? I see plenty of jobs posted on Upwork that are misclassified. In fact, I was invited to one last night.
Community Guru
Bill H Member Since: Aug 18, 2017
6 of 6

I'm from the government and I'm here to help you.


Scariest sentence in the English language