Southern California Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Indep Contract Interpreting in CA


Updated Fall 2022

The 2019-2020 legislative session saw the passage of AB5 and AB2257, impacting the status of workers in the State of California. Specifically, CA AB2257 was a "cleanup bill" to AB5, and amended Chapter 2 of Division 3 of the Labor Code to include Article 1.5, commencing with Section 2775. The following is a summary of current factors impacting the appropriate status of interpreters working in California.

In essence, for an interpreter to work as an independent contractor rather than an employee when providing work in California, they must meet requirements of either the General Rule or the Exemption, below. Most interpreter/requester relationships will be satisfied more readily via the three elements of the exemption as detailed below.

*Disclaimer: The authors of this page are not attorneys and have attempted to gather and present information as accurately as possible. We encourage you to further your own research into this matter, and to secure legal consultation as needed/desired.

In the text of the law, the hiring entity represents the interpreter agency (or the requester when no agency is involved), the service provider represents the interpreter, and the client represents the requester.

AB5 Text:

AB2257 Text:

General Rule (see Section 2775(b)(1)): 

Paid service providers are to be considered employees and not ICs unless the hiring entity proves all three of the following terms (also known collectively as Dynamex, or the ABC Rule). Note, (B) is the element which primarily disqualifies interpreters from IC status when working with interpreting agencies.

(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.

(B) The person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.

(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.

Exemption (see Section 2777):

Under certain conditions the general rule does not apply between a referral agency and interpreter, and interpreters ARE allowed to work as independent contractors.

  • First, note the definition of interpreter as used in this law, as there are limitations on to whom this exemption may apply.

    (2777)(b)(7) Interpreting services means:

(A) Services provided by a certified or registered interpreter in a language with an available certification or registration through the Judicial Council of California, State Personnel Board, or any other agency or department in the State of California, or through a testing organization, agency, or educational institution approved or recognized by the state, or through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters, National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters, International Association of Conference Interpreters, United States Department of State, or the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.

(B) Services provided by an interpreter in a language without an available certification through the entities listed in subparagraph (A).

  • Second, if the interpreter meets the definition above re: qualifications, the next check to see if they can work as an IC regards their business structure. According to this law, the interpreter must function as a sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, or corporation.

    • In general, and not pursuant to AB5 or AB2257, appropriate setup of your business entity requires three layers. All three are available to process yourself, or there are various services you may wish to hire to help. Be aware that many online services charge for certain filings that may be done yourself, readily and at no cost online.

      • Local: Obtain a business license from the city where you base your work (ie your home, for most of us). If your city does not provide business licenses, verification of this will suffice (city website stating this fact, letter from the city, etc)
      • State: If you are functioning as a sole proprietor you may want to formally submit a DBA with the State of California, although it is not required. If you are functioning as a partnership, LLC, or corporation, you must file with the State. As of this writing there his no associated fee for maintaining a sole proprietorship, while other structures do require an annual minimum franchise tax be paid.
      • Federal: After legally forming your business entity with the State, file with the IRS to receive an EIN under your business name. As of this writing, Oct 2022, there is no associated fee.

  • Lastly, if the above two elements are met, the agency must prove your relationship with them meets the following terms (also known collectively as Borello):

(1) The service provider is freed from the control and direction of the referral agency in connection with the performance of the work for the client, both as a matter of contract and in fact.

(2) If the work for the client is performed in a jurisdiction that requires the service provider to have a business license or business tax registration in order to provide the services under the contract, the service provider shall certify to the referral agency that they have the required business license or business tax registration. The referral agency shall keep the certifications for a period of at least three years. As used in this paragraph:

(A) Business license includes a license, tax certificate, fee, or equivalent payment that is required or collected by a local jurisdiction annually, or on some other fixed cycle, as a condition of providing services in the local jurisdiction.

(B) Local jurisdiction means a city, county, or city and county, including charter cities.

(3) If the work for the client requires the service provider to hold a state contractor’s license pursuant to Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 7000) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code, the service provider has the required contractor’s license.

(4) If there is an applicable professional licensure, permit, certification, or registration administered or recognized by the state available for the type of work being performed for the client, the service provider shall certify to the referral agency that they have the appropriate professional licensure, permit, certification, or registration. The referral agency shall keep the certifications for a period of at least three years.

(5) The service provider delivers services to the client under the service provider’s name, without being required to deliver the services under the name of the referral agency.

(6) The service provider provides its own tools and supplies to perform the services.

(7) The service provider is customarily engaged, or was previously engaged, in an independently established business or trade of the same nature as, or related to, the work performed for the client.

(8) The referral agency does not restrict the service provider from maintaining a clientele and the service provider is free to seek work elsewhere, including through a competing referral agency.

(9) The service provider sets their own hours and terms of work or negotiates their hours and terms of work directly with the client.

(10) Without deduction by the referral agency, the service provider sets their own rates, negotiates their rates with the client through the referral agency, negotiates rates directly with the client, or is free to accept or reject rates set by the client.

(11) The service provider is free to accept or reject clients and contracts, without being penalized in any form by the referral agency. This paragraph does not apply if the service provider accepts a client or contract and then fails to fulfill any of its contractual obligations.


15 Sep 2022 Final Update: AB5 and AB2257

California Assembly Bill 2257 (AB5 "Cleanup Bill")

AB2257, the "cleanup bill" to AB5, was signed into law September 2020, and DOES include an interpreter exemption! 

Ultimately and in essence, under AB2257 effective as of 1/1/20 agencies are able to contract under the referral agency structure with interpreters certified or registered by a state-recognized entity or by the RID. It appears this means the current state recognition of the EIPA and ESSE in k-12, legal certification in the courts, and RID certifications are recognized within the referral agency portion of the exemption. Further analysis will be required to determine the application of the term registered to our field and whether or not this would include, for example, associate members of RID. Additionally, those working in a language for which there is no current certification available are included in the exemption. Finally, the business-to-business section of AB2257 was reworked a bit, which may open an opportunity to pursue that business model. Again, further analysis will be necessary to work out all the details and impacts of this bill on our field.

It is also important to note the bill text incorporates an element of flexibility. The state has the ability to recognize additional certifications, which would then automatically fall within the exemption. Should licensure be established, allowing an industry-specific compilation of qualifications to be created, licensed interpreters would then also fall under those with whom agencies may contract using the referral agency structure.

The language is not perfect, but AB2257 does provide viable pathways to relief from AB5. It does preserve the option to continue working with agencies as an independent contractor, while of course, the option to seek employment with agencies remains!

Read Full Text of AB2257

Last Updated: 15 September 2020

California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5)

Read Full Text of AB5

ASL Town Hall Meeting Recording & Slides

CART link:

Slides: AB5 TownHall PPT GLAD.pdf

Note, this event did not have the setup to embed live captions on the Facebook stream. The link above will open in a separate window, which can be sized next to or above/below the townhall video. 

Townhalls were held 10/26/19 at OC Deaf, 11/02/19 at CODIE, and 11/09/19 at GLAD. All townhalls were livestreamed to SCRID's facebook page and may be found there.



General understanding of this bill is that it was written in response to concern over companies, especially in the gig economy, who may be taking advantage of the independent contractor (IC) status in their business relationships. Uber and Lyft are the two companies most of us are aware of at the center of the discussion that drew the authoring of this bill. The bill was signed into law by Governor Newsom 18 September 2019 and will become effective 01 January 2020.

As it relates to the interpreting & captioning professions, it seems this law will no longer allow interpreting/CART agencies to work with interpreters/captioners as ICs. They may instead hire the provider as an employee, or potentially enter into a business-to-business relationship with a provider who has formally set up their own business. There is some grey area in the law, subject to further scrutiny and interpretation. For example the business-to-business relationship may or may not be effective in our field due to a question of who is receiving the provider services; and agencies whose business model is validly that of a referral service may be able to continue to classify providers as ICs. Additionally, it seems providers may continue to work as ICs if they are working directly with the requestor and the work being done is not in the usual course of the requestor's business.

Many professions have been exempted from this new law, but sign language interpreters/sign language translators/captioners(CART) have not been included in these exemptions.

A little background... 

AB 5 codifies a 2018 ruling of the California Supreme Court in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 903. Under this new law, most California workers are presumed to be an employee for purposes of the Labor Code, the Unemployment Insurance Code, and for the wage orders of the Industrial Welfare Commission. If effect, while it does simplify the test used to determine a worker's status, it makes it more difficult for CA workers in general to be classified as ICs.

Under the Dynamex ruling, as of April 2018 the Borello test, the standard for establishing independent contractor (IC) status since 1989, has been replaced by the ABC test. This test stipulates the following criteria must be met to classify a worker as an IC:

1) The company must not be able to control or direct what the worker does, either by contract or in actual practice; 

2) the worker must perform tasks outside of the hiring entity’s usual course of business; and 

3) the worker must be engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business.

To be clear, the ABC test has been the standard since April 2018 due to case law. The passing of AB5 does not introduce a new standard, but rather moves case law into statutory law, in effect strengthening its power. It is the second criteria in the ABC test that is generally seen to pose the most risk to the current business practice of interpreter & CART providers.

Informational Links:

California Assembly Bill 5 (2019), Wikipedia:

Deconstructing Dynamex, Los Angeles Lawyer, Sep 2018:

Independent Contractors May Actually be Employees, American Bar Association, 23 Nov 2018:

"AB5 gig work bill: All your Questions Answered," San Francisco Chronicle, 16 Sep 2019:

"California has a new law for contract workers. But many businesses aren’t ready for change," LA Times, 29 Sep 2019:
"California's contract worker law could add health coverage for some but put others at risk," LA Times, 04 Oct 2019:
"California's contract worker law could add health coverage for some but put others at risk," LA Times, 04 Oct 2019:

"How to Set up a Sole Proprietorship in CA," General Information 2019

A good basic explanation of California’s legislative process and how to take part: 

The California Legislature 101, Indivisible CA: State Strong, 2019:

Letters Submitted to the Legislature Prior to AB5 Passing:

SCRID Ltr AB5 190827.pdf

RID Letter on CA AB5 August 2019.pdf

ALC - Worker Classification Statement.pdf