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freelance legal protections

Historic legislation protecting freelancers passed in New York today. The Freelance Isn’t Free Act sets forth new regulations for businesses that work with independent contractors. The legislation, formally titled “A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to protections for freelance workers,” imposes clear legal consequences for businesses who do not pay freelancers.

You may have followed #FreelanceIsntFree on social media. While lawmakers have discussed the proposed legislation for more than a year, freelancers and others have voiced their thoughts with the hashtag to highlight examples of independent workers who deal with late or non-paying clients.

The Act provides freelancers:

The right to written contract, the right to be paid timely and in full and the right to be free of retaliation.

The Act requires a contract for projects in excess of $200 and provides legal recourse for freelancers if balances remain unpaid 30 days after payment was due. If a freelancer pursues litigation and wins, the new legislation includes provisions for attorney fee reimbursement, as well as receipt of damages. Businesses that develop a pattern of not paying independent workers may face a civil fine up to $25,000.

This new law not only protects creative workers, but all independent workers, which include anyone who receives a 1099 and/or performs work and is not an employee. Some construction workers, manufacturing positions, and caregivers, among many other fields, may also enjoy protections under this new law.

Mark your calendars – because freelancers should celebrate this victory annually! Also, help bring this matter to state lawmakers in your area. The Freelancers Union has a simple petition you can sign here that helps direct the issue straight to your zip code.