May 15 is the third anniversary of New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act, the first law in the country that protects freelancers against nonpayment. We fought long and hard for its passage because we know that client nonpayment is one of the most common — and most frustrating — hazards of the freelance life.
The Freelance Isn’t Free Act is a robust set of protections that require clients to use a contract every time they hire freelancers for $800 worth of work (the amount can be accumulated over a four-month period), requires payment within 30 days, and provides legal assistance and an easy claim process managed by the city.
In essence, the law places the financial risk on clients, rather than freelancers. If you do the work you were hired to do, clients must pay. It’s that simple. If they don’t, they can be held liable for double the amount of your invoice, plus legal fees, and fines for chronic nonpayers.
More than ever, we’re hearing from members who are owed money by delinquent clients. While many small businesses are genuinely struggling during the coronavirus crisis, too many large, well-funded companies are using it as an excuse to avoid paying freelancers what they’re owed. The most common coronavirus-related excuses don’t hold up under the Act.
What if I’m in NYC but my client isn’t?
The Act may still apply to you, depending on the overall circumstances of the work, including whether some portion of the work was performed in New York City (which is likely if you live and work in NYC), whether you were hired in New York City, and whether the hiring party has any operations within New York City. You should file a claim.
What if I’m not in NYC but my client is?
The Act applies to you! If the hiring party is based in NYC, they fall under NYC jurisdiction and must abide by all city laws. You can file a claim remotely.
What if neither of us is in NYC?
It’s our goal to introduce Freelance Isn’t Free legislation across the country — no freelancer should feel helpless when a client refuses to pay them what they’re owed.
If you want to get involved in the fight to bring Freelance Isn’t Free to your city, @">@
Workers’ World Today is a free publication that empowers all workers, regardless of social or political affiliations. Distributed throughout New York City, our paper has a mission to educate workers and provide them with relevant information pertinent to the workforce such as workers’ compensation, discrimination on the job, workers’ rights, and more.