This week in Homebase News we cover California’s impending employment law overhaul, Whole Foods’ cutting of healthcare for part-time employees, and more. Read below to get the details on these stories and other happenings involving local businesses and hourly workers.

California Employment Law Overhaul Bill Passed by Legislature

A recent bill passed by the California legislature aims to overhaul independent contractor requirements is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

Assembly Bill 5 changes the definition of independent contractor, which means thousands of workers will have rights to job benefits and pay guarantees. 

While a range of occupations are exempt from the new bill, that list does not include gig giants Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates, and others. 

“We will not in good conscience allow free-riding businesses to continue to pass their own business costs on to taxpayers and workers. It’s our job to look out for working men and women, not Wall Street and their get-rich-quick IPOs,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said. 

FBI Investigates Accusations of Payroll Company Stiffing SMBs for $35M

The FBI, along with the New York State Department of Labor, is investigating allegations that a large payroll company paid its own bank account $35 million in employee pay before abruptly closing its doors. 

According to the allegations, MyPayrollHR left over 250,000 employees across the United States without paychecks before shutting down last week when it was accused of moving $26 million from small-business employee paychecks to its own bank account. 

The company also allegedly stiffed National Payment Corporation, which handles $9 million in tax withholdings for MyPayrollHR clients. 

The FBI office in Albany tweeted that it is “seeking information from business owners who may have suffered financial loss due to the alleged activity of MyPayrollHR and its affiliates.” 

Whole Foods Cuts Healthcare Coverage for Part-Time Workers

Around 1,900 Whole Foods workers are set to lose their medical and health benefits as of January 2020. 

Currently, employees who work at least 20 hours a week receive benefits, but the new rule will require employees to work at least 30 hours a week to be eligible. 

A Whole Foods spokesperson said the change was being implemented “to better meet the needs of our business and create a more equitable and efficient scheduling model.” 

“The small percentage of part-time team members … who previously opted into medical benefits through Whole Foods Market’s healthcare plan — less than 2% of our total workforce — will no longer be eligible to buy into medical coverage through the company,” the spokesperson said.

Survey: Small Business Owner Support for Trump Wavering 

Recent survey results show that support for Trump in next year’s race from small business owners may be wavering. 

A poll of 700 business owners found that 37% of small business owners prefer Trump, while 44% prefer a Democratic candidate. While the poll is just a snapshot, Princeton University political science professor Lauren Wright said it could be “evidence of erosion” amid the trade war with China and mixed benefits from 2018’s sweeping tax cuts. 

Still, Wright stressed that Trump has plenty of time to win back the allegiance of small business owners. Fifty-seven percent of business owners polled said they were optimistic about the outlook for their companies.