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October 26, 2020

California Assembly Bill 5 (2019) and how it affects Notaries

Filed under: California_Notary — admin @ 9:10 am

Someone emailed me about Assembly Bill 5 which is a California law currently. This bill limits the use of classifying subcontractors as independent contractors rather than classifying them as employees.

Employees are entitled to more labor protections such as sick leave, minimum wage, unemployment, workman’s comp, and more.

Companies such as Lyft, DoorDash, and Uber agreed to spend millions for a ballot initiative to oppose this bill.

As most bills that are socialist in nature, the premise is to “help” workers. But, the result is to make it very expensive and cumbersome to hire local workers. The advent of unions made it prohibitively expensive to hire domestic workers which resulted in lots of outsourcing. In the long run the unions did more harm than good for the workers. Assembly Bill 5 results in compromising American freedoms such as the right to form your own agreements and contracts with paid help. Many companies with particular business models will no longer have the freedom to decide whether to hire someone as a contractor or employee and face the risk of being penalized by the state.

So, how does this affect mobile notaries? Mobile notaries must now pass a strict level of qualifications to be considered independent contractors. They must meet all three conditions.

1. The worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring party in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of such work and in fact
2. The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business
3. The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity

Title companies that hire notaries often hire more experienced notaries who do not need any hand holding. However signing companies are famous for micromanaging notaries, telling them what to do and how to do it, and requiring lots of fax backs. Signing companies are violating stipulation #1 in the list of requirements of having independent contractors. Additionally, signing agents, do signing work which is not outside the usual course of what a signing company does. That is their main type of work and not something outsourced like accounting or computer repair. As far as condition #3, most Notaries do Notary related work for many different hiring parties, so although they may or may not pass condition #1, definitely don’t pass #2, the will pass condition #3.

Will this mean that Notaries in California can no longer function as signing agents without being put on payroll? Would this be good or bad? I think it is a disaster and this bill is another milestone in the end of American freedom and the onset of socialism or communism in America (boo). But, what if signing companies outside of California hire signing agents within California? Can the state of California still sue them or penalize them for not following local rules? Maybe companies will have to hire full time and part time on-call employees to do their bidding. There is a company in Missouri that already does this on their own free will — notice that I said free will. Forcing this business model on companies is just not nice. It might also be disastrous for the directory business.

On a brighter note, maybe most signing agents and signing companies will ignore this rule and not get into trouble. After all, to enforce this rule requires attorneys and they do not work for cheap.

Personally I feel this bill is intrusive, a violation of our freedoms, and counterproductive. It will lead to a lot of unemployment, poverty and misery all under the guise of wanting to make downtrodden people’s lives better by having lots of artificial restrictions on employment.



  1. As you are located in CA, please let your thoughts be known to the CA legislators, if you haven’t already done so.

    Comment by Ardel Richter — April 13, 2020 @ 1:43 pm

  2. Signing agents are nothing but a cancer, and un-necessary middlemen. Most exist , because there is some senior employee in the title company is hiring his relative or friend and there could be kickbacks involved.

    This law might be a good thing. As lot of notaries are barely making ends meet, this might create a new position as a closer EMPLOYEE and might give them a steady income.
    So all those part time notary stragglers might end up with no part time income , while some of them might gain full time.

    WHat sort of loss of jobs are you talking about? All the Title Closing jobs might be concentrated in a few EMPLOYED NOTARIES.
    THat could be a good thing. This means, employers will only seek GOOD & EXPERIENCED NOTARIES.

    JEREMY, you have yourself been trying to weed out those “UNQUALIFIED” notaries.
    Isnt that your pet peeve.

    What did CONTRACT EMPLOYMENT Provide to notaries? Low wages, Unpaid and stifled mptaroes. Signing agencies, micromanaging for one thing or another.
    LOOK UP IRS code for what fits to be an employer and what fits to be a contractor. Micromanaging is actually a definition of employer.


    Comment by Ray Diallooooo — May 6, 2020 @ 5:39 pm

  3. Can you say RON? This is the future.
    I am RON certified within my State.

    Comment by Jean Meyer — May 6, 2020 @ 5:50 pm

  4. I believe Lorena Gonzalez introduced AB5 to help Uber/Lyft drivers not realizing how it would affect hairdressers, Notaries, etc..
    I 100% agree with your assessment.
    Thanks for posting.

    Comment by Jim Morgan — May 6, 2020 @ 6:40 pm

  5. You have the right to express your opinions. I don’t agree with them. I gather you’d rather that business run this country rather than the people and their deleted officials.

    Comment by Miguel Buchwald — May 6, 2020 @ 6:48 pm

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