On October 27, 2016, New York City became the first city in the nation to protect freelance workers against client nonpayment. The Freelance Isn’t Free Campaign launched in September of 2015 at Brooklyn Borough Hall, with over 100 freelancers in attendance as well as city leaders like bill sponsor Council Member Brad Lander, Council Member Stephen Levin, and Council Member Laurie Cumbo.
The Freelance Isn’t Free Act requires written contracts for freelance gigs, allows freelancers to file complaints against non and late-paying clients with the Department of Labor Standards, and institutes penalties against clients found guilty of nonpayment in small claims court.
Anyone who hires a freelancer for work over $800 must have a contract outlining the scope of work, rate, method of payment, and payment due date. This is when an Independent Contractor Agreement is important. My personal take is that you should have a written contract no matter the amount or size of the project. The Act allows the burden of the contract to fall on the client; not the freelancer.
Clients cannot require that freelancers accept less than the contract stipulate in exchange for timely payments and payments must be received within 30 days.
Freelancers may file a court action and litigate against the deadbeat client. If the judge rules in favor of the freelancer, client may be held responsible for freelancer’s attorney fees and may also be subject to a fine?
The Freelance Union needs your help to make this a national law; here is how you can help.
Do virtual paralegals have a problem getting paid from their clients?
You can view the legislation here.