Here’s the fact: California legislators approved a bill (Assembly Bill 5, or AB 5) that will reclassify “gig” workers from contractors to employees. Now here’s the fear: AB 5 will essentially doom the concept of locum tenens clinicians in the state. The bill was conceived as a way for gig workers to get benefits from the companies they contract with—though coverage of the bill has largely focused on app-based transportation companies Uber and Lyft. The other side of that is, those companies are now having to take a hard look at the economics of using independent contractors as much as they do. The fallout could mean fewer healthcare companies—certainly including, but not limited to, urgent care operators—will employ locum tenens on a regular basis. Predictably, message boards geared toward healthcare workers exploded in vitriol. On a page called allnurses.com, one poster claimed that locum tenens physicians have been exempted from the AB 5 reclassifications, but that nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and registered nurses have not. “LOCUMS IS DEAD” (yes, the all-caps are the poster’s), they predicted. Another relayed that their “locum agency stated that we will all have to be employees of the agency and as such our hourly rate will go down. No thanks. It’s time to leave California.” Time will tell how much of the hysteria is warranted.
Does Assembly Bill 5 Doom Locum Tenens in California?