Business groups are lining up against an Assembly bill that would require employers with more than 10 employees to offer current part-time workers more hours before bringing in additional hires or contracting out work.

AB 5 author Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, said the bill’s aim is to boost hours and total pay for part-timers, whose ranks swelled during the recovery from the Great Recession.

“Even as we’ve won increases in the minimum wage to help part-time workers, that just won’t cut it if you can’t get enough hours of work,” she said in a statement introducing the bill.

But business groups say the proposal would severely limit employers’ ability to respond to seasonal changes in demand or to take on short-term projects.

“AB 5 fails to account for many types of businesses such as those that need more employees for less hours rather than less employees for more hours,” the Valley Industry and Commerce Association said in its weekly legislative update. “The bill also strips flexibility from employers who might have higher seasonal demand and will make it harder for people seeking part-time work to find part-time positions.”

There’s one more problem, VICA said in its update: AB 5 isn’t limited to workers at a company’s specific locations. So restaurants, retail stores, and other types of businesses with multiple locations would have to offer more hours to part-time workers in all locations before they add employees or contract workers, regardless of demand.

AB 5 has not yet been set for its first hearing, but the deadline for policy committees to consider nonbudget bills is May 12.

Pro-Business Bills

On the other side of the ledger, several measures have been introduced that are aimed at cutting costs for businesses or otherwise making the lives of business owners easier. Among them:

• AB 600 (Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove) and SB 600 (Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton): A pair of bills sponsored by the California Manufacturers and Technology Association that would extend and boost the sales tax exemption for manufacturing and research and development equipment purchases.

• AB 1715 and AB 1716 (introduced by the Assembly Jobs Committee, chaired by Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Anaheim): The bills would authorize new tax credits for small businesses. AB 1715 targets businesses in low-income communities; AB 1716 targets small manufacturers.

• AB 162 (Quirk-Silva and Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes, D-Corona): Expands the definition of small businesses eligible for California Competes tax credits to include businesses with 50 or fewer employees. The current definition is limited to businesses with annual revenue of less than $2 million. This bill cleared the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee last month and next moves on to the jobs committee.

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