Adult Entertainers Are Now Eligible for Overtime Pay

October 3, 2019, 6:54 PM UTC
California AB-5-AVW Awards
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 27: A general view shows actors arriving at the 2018 Adult Video News Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 27, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller—Getty Images

When California governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 5, the state’s rewritten employment law, much of the focus was on Uber and Lyft drivers. But the law reached well beyond the tentpoles of the gig economy.

Under the law, performers in the adult entertainment industry are entitled to the same benefits as those drivers, specifically being recognized as employees of the companies they work for. That gives them the right to overtime pay, minimum wage protection and workers’ compensation protections.

Health care? That’s a little trickier, since few porn stars work 40 hour weeks.

“The criteria are pretty clear and … as of right now, it does seem that works in adult entertainment would be covered by the new law,” says Rebecca Givan, an associate professor of labor studies and employment relations at Rutgers University. “There could, however, be attempts to attempt an amendment that could change it.”

The California Labor Federation confirmed adult performers as being covered under the bill in a Tweet earlier this week.

AB5 lists dozens of occupations that are exempt, including:

  • Doctors
  • Lawyers
  • Architects
  • Accountants
  • Private investigators
  • Commercial fishermen
  • Manicurists and estheticians

But porn stars aren’t on that list. Neither are truck drivers, freelance writers and artists, owners of franchise businesses or cleaners.

The law also protects adult film stars against sexual harassment, something the industry has been increasingly concerned about in recent years. (Earlier this year, Gamma Films, one of the largest conglomerates in the porn world, instituted a code of conduct for performers and crew after one of its directors was accused of sexual assault by a performer.)

There will, however, likely be one effect performers (both in the adult entertainment world and other industries) aren’t prepared for: Smaller paychecks.

“For performers, it’s probably not going to have much of a negative impact, aside from the fact that they’ll see less money,” says Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals, a sociologist who specializes in the world of adult entertainment. “They’re used to getting their day rate. Now they’re going to have taxes taken out of it. It’s also going to cost producers time and money to do that.”

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