There are plenty of people who work nontraditional jobs. Freelancing is a common example, and can offer a way for professionals to have more flexibility in their work.
Freelancing, however, also comes with drawbacks. Complaints about unpaid wages are relatively common among this group of workers, who often have fewer protections than traditional employees. This can make it harder for freelancers to collect payment or defend themselves against business owners who try to take advantage of them.
Recently, the New York City Council passed the Freelance Isn’t Free Act. The law was proposed by the Freelancers Union, a group that formed to protect the rights of freelance workers in New York and across the country. It aims to protect freelancers, whether operating as a sole owner of an entity or individually, by requiring contracts for all work, setting penalties for unpaid or late wages, and allowing freelancers to file complaints with the Department of Labor Standards. The law allows for double damages and attorneys’ fees if a company is found to have violated the law, similar to the protections granted to employees under the New York Labor Law.
The Freelance Union states that 38% of the work force in New York freelances, and hope that this victory in New York will spread to other cities.
A story in Entrepreneur lays out some of the issues freelancers and businesses should be aware of regarding the new law. With new standards in contracts, it is important for both sides to understand what is in a freelancing agreement in order to make sure it complies with the Freelance Isn’t Free Act.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you have a business outside of New York City, but hire freelancers from the city, you may be subject to the new law.
New York City is often a leader in expanding and fortifying workers’ rights, and the Freelancer’s Union will undoubtedly try and use this momentum to expand this law to other cities as well.