Could AB-5 “Kill” Christmas? Santa Portrayal & Independent Contractor Status

Calfornia’s new law, AB 5, (Google it) became effective this year. (Here’s just 1 article.)

The law pertains to the parameters that qualify one to be an “Independent Contractor” vs an Employee. I understand that New York, New Jersy, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and undoubtedly other states are currently looking at similar laws. 

AB 5 is reportedly having a devastating impact on many people who have been operating as Independent Contractors, including those who portray Santa Claus.

Because hiring an employee imposes additional costs on the employer (compared to hiring an Independent Contract), many would-be employers have decided to forgo hiring altogether, causing many people, again, including Santas, to lose their jobs, or as they’re often referred to, their ‘gigs’. 

Obviously I’m not an attorney and I have not consulted with one relating to this. I do however expertise in marketing, and from a marketing perspective, I know that clear, concise, on-message communications are paramount.

If a potential client should raise an AB 5 related concern to me about retaining my services I would suggest they talk to their HR department and their attorney. I would also provide the following for their consideration. 

Here’s some information about me, Ed Taylor, and my Santa Claus portrayal services.

I portray Santa Claus as an independent small business owner. My Santa Claus portrayal takes different forms and encompasses many different clients/customers with various needs and in various capacities:

TV/MOVIES: I pursue Santa Claus work on TV shows and national, regional and local commercials. To date, my dozens of TV appearances have had well over 3 BILLION impressions. I’ve also had small parts in a few movies. 

PERSONAL APPEARANCES: I also make my Santa Claus portrayal services available in the form of personal appearances. Typically between 80 & 100 individuals, companies & organizations retain my personal appearance services each year. 

MY SANTA CLAUS PORTRAYAL BUSINESS: My unique Santa portrayal is the result of 17 years of personal experience, attending Santa Schools and in-person & online training sessions. I’ve invested many thousands of dollars in building my business and in my own wardrobe, most of which is custom made. I also carry $4,000,000 in liability insurance.

I apply my knowledge, skill, training, wardrobe, and props to provide an interpretation of Santa Claus that is authentic and uniquely mine. My unique skill-set is at the core of my business, it’s why my clients retain my services and it makes me free from the control and direction of my clients.

Most of my appearances are ‘one-off’ with no ongoing commitments from either party. My business is dependant on providing services to dozens of separate companies and individuals each year. 

I set my own rates which are published on my website. 

I have the sole financial responsibility for my business. My income comes from dozens of sources with no one source comprising a significantly large proportion of my total income.

My personal appearances, mostly home & company parties, are not integral to the business of my clients, they’re an adjunct much like catering a special meal once a year. The Santa portrayal I provide is directly for my clients, not the customers of my clients. 

My business operates from my home office. I advertise my Santa Claus portrayal business in several places online and use many marketing systems to maintain & build my business, all at my expense and risk.

In most cases my clients pay me directly, occasionally my compensation is routed through an agent or event planner


This is a work in progress but I hope you can see where I’m going with this. I’m laying out the relevant facts pertaining to my Santa Claus portrayal business.

The greatest impact will likely be on Santas who primarily work with one, or a small number of companies, say photo companies, retail outlets, or ‘booking agents’.

As I mentioned at the top, I’m not an expert on this topic, but if you think this law or a similar one in your state might have an impact on you I suggest you find out early and take the necessary steps to mitigate any potential loses. 

FYI- Because of the need mall/retail Santas might feel to become more independent I have re-opened Platinum & Gold membership early. You can now get a jump on moving in this direction for the 2020 season. Enroll Here

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