new york freelancer working with the city in the background

From NYC to Statewide: The Fight for Freelancer Rights in New York

With the rapidly changing dynamics of the job market, New York stands on the precipice of a legislative revolution aimed at safeguarding its vast community of independent workers. As freelancers contribute significantly to the economy, their well-being and protection from exploitation should be of utmost priority. Enter the “Freelance Isn’t Free Act” (FIFA) – an initiative aiming to do just that. If payment woes or client issues sound familiar, here’s how FIFA could reshape your freelance landscape in New York.

The Drive Behind New York State’s “Freelance Isn’t Free Act” Initiative

The National Writers’ Union (NWU) and the Freelance Solidarity Project, the Digital Media Division of NWU, lead a vital labor movement to champion the initiative what is “Freelance Isn’t Free Act” at the state level in the New York legislature. This proposed law aims to protect the rights and earnings of freelance workers across the state.

What’s the FIFA Buzz About?

In simple terms, the FIFA bill directly boosts protection for freelancers like you. Faced late payments from clients? Struggled without a contract for your work? FIFA addresses these challenges. State Senator Andrew Gounardes stated, “From Brooklyn to Buffalo, freelancers across New York should have their rights as workers fully protected. As workers continue to unionize and stand up for their rights across the country, it is our responsibility as a legislature to recognize the needs of this too-often overlooked workforce, and make these protections law for all New Yorkers.”

The Journey So Far

A few years back, New York City took a big step. In 2017, it passed a law to protect freelance workers from late or no payment. That was huge! Now, the aim is to bring these protections to all of New York State.

There was a bill, called S8369, that tried to do this. It got passed by the legislature, but the Governor Hochul didn’t give it the final thumbs up. But, here’s the good part: they didn’t give up. A new version, S5026, has been reintroduced.

What Does FIFA Want?

Provisions of the Bill:

  1. Mandatory Written Contract: Companies hiring freelancers for work valued at $200 or more must provide a written contract.
  2. Prompt Payment: Payment for completed work is required within 30 days.
  3. State Involvement: The New York State Labor Department will be empowered to act against employers defaulting on payments.
  4. Legal Recourse: Freelancers can take delinquent employers to state courts.
  5. Protection against Retaliation: Companies are barred from retaliating against freelancers.
  6. Geographic Inclusivity: Freelancers transacting with a New York-based company are covered by this act, irrespective of their residential location.

What’s the Public Sentiment?

A significant number support this legislation. Larry Goldbetter, the President of the National Writers Union, remarked, “From 2017 to 2021, the law has secured $2.5 million due to unpaid fees and penalties, benefiting over 700 freelancers.” This underscores the legislation’s efficacy.

Similarly, Rafael Espinal of the Freelancers Union emphasized, “In conventional employment, immediate non-payment would be viewed as a severe infringement.” Freelancers deserve parallel considerations.

What Next for New York’s Freelancers?

Freelancers make a huge part of New York. With so many people freelancing, from writers to designers, this bill could change the game. If FIFA becomes a state law, other places might follow.