Are you a freelancer who is struggling to get paid in a timely fashion? New York City Councilmember Brad Lander wants the city to go to bat for you.
The City Council’s Consumer Affairs committee reviewed legislation yesterday requiring any company who hires a freelance worker to enter into a written contract detailing terms of payment, and if payment is substantially delayed, the freelancer could appeal to the City’s Department of Consumer Affairs for assistance.
Councilmember Brad Lander of Park Slope, who is sponsoring the legislation, described nonpayment of freelancers in New York City as an “epidemic.” There are an estimated 1.3 million freelancers working in New York today who lose an average of $5,968 annually, his office reported.
Payment issues faced by freelancers across the U.S. are detailed in this 2015 report prepared by the Freelancers Union.
Lander’s legislation, also called the “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act (Int. 1017-2015), would require that written contracts between freelancers and their clients describe the work to be completed, the rate and method of payment, and the date when payment is due.
Companies who refuse to pay, or try to force freelancers to wait more than 30 days to get paid in full (if a 30-day term was agreed upon in the contract), would have to answer to the City’s Department of Consumer Affairs and face penalties, including double damages, attorney’s fees, and civil penalties.
Read the full legislation here.
If the legislation is passed, enforcement may eventually be passed on to the City’s newly established Office of Labor Standards, which will also be enforcing the City’s paid sick leave law.
Lander’s bill has 27 co-sponsors in the Council. It also has the support of the Freelancers Union, the United Federation of Teachers, SEIU 32BJ, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Make the Road New York, and New York Tech Meetup.