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How Does The Freelance Isn’t Free Act Help Freelancers Get Paid?

In the bustling world of freelancing, there’s a beacon of hope for those working in New York City: the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, commonly known as FIFA. This legislation stands tall and unwavering, ensuring that no one can bypass or dismiss it for any reason whatsoever. While there are many reasons why FIFA acts as a guardian angel for freelancers, one stands out prominently: even if a hiring company fancies the idea of sidestepping FIFA, they’re in for a reality check because they simply can’t!

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Why is the Freelance Isn’t Free Act so Great at Helping Freelancers Get Paid?

Remember: FIFA is mandatory and cannot be waived by anyone for any reason. This is just one reason FIFA is a powerful tool to help freelancers get paid. Even if the company that hires you wants to avoid FIFA, they can’t!

Here are some of the other reasons:

1. The penalties for failing to comply with the Freelance Isn’t Free Act are very stiff.

FIFA Compliance Requirements for Hiring Parties:

  1. Written Contract Violations:

    • Legally, if a hiring party fails to provide a written contract, they owe the freelancer $250.
  2. Non-Payment Violations:

    • Legally, if a hiring party doesn’t pay the freelancer, they owe double the invoice amount.
      • Example: An unpaid invoice of $1,000 results in a debt of $2,000.
  3. Partial Payment Violations:

    • Legally, if a hiring party partially pays the freelancer, they owe double the unpaid invoice amount.

Examples of FIFA

If your invoice is for $2,000, but the hiring party only paid you $1,000, you are still owed $2,000 in addition to the $1,000 already paid. (Here’s the math: $2K invoice minus $1K paid = $1K owed, but since the hiring party violated FIFA by not paying in full, the $1K owed is doubled to $2K owed.)

Arguably, a hiring party who fails to comply with FIFA’s written contract requirement and who refuses to pay the freelancer at all owes the freelancer triple the amount of the invoice.

For example, if you were paid nothing on your $3,000 invoice and the hiring party did not provide you with a written contract that meets FIFA’s requirements, arguably, you are owed $9,000! (That’s $3K for the original invoice, a $3K penalty for not paying in full within 30 days, and another $3K for failing to provide you a written contract, or $9K total.) I say “arguably” only because, to my knowledge, no court has yet ruled on this issue, which is one of statutory interpretation. However, the argument can be supported by the specific language of FIFA.

2. Why does the Freelance Isn’t Free Act work so well? Do you have any proof?

After FIFA was enacted, the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection released a report on its effectiveness. The report found:

    • 61% of people making claims under FIFA recovered payment within 91 days.
    • The average claimant recovered $2,039.
    • 72% of people making claims worked in the arts and entertainment industries.

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3. Are there any other penalties under the Freelance Isn’t Free Act?

Indeed, under FIFA, if a freelancer successfully brings forth a claim, the hiring entity must cover the freelancer’s legal expenses and associated costs.

This implies that if you emerge victorious in a lawsuit under FIFA, the company that engaged your services is bound to compensate you for any associated expenses, like court filing charges and attorney fees, that you’ve borne.

This obligation holds irrespective of the specific nature of the company’s breach of FIFA regulations.

Moreover, FIFA includes provisions to penalize companies exhibiting consistent non-compliance. These “pattern and practice” violations refer to instances where a particular company is repeatedly found guilty of violating FIFA across different freelancer engagements. For such recurrent violations, the City is empowered by FIFA to levy a hefty fine of $25,000 on the offending companies.

4. Could there be negative consequences to the freelancer for filing a claim?


Perhaps, though it is unlikely due to FIFA’s anti-retaliation and anti-blacklisting provisions.

Many freelancers are afraid of being blacklisted if they speak up about their unpaid invoices. But FIFA specifically forbids hiring parties from punishing freelancers for asserting non-payment claims.

Specifically, FIFA makes it illegal to “threaten, intimidate, discipline, harass, deny a work opportunity to or discriminate” against a freelancer or independent contractor who complains or even attempts to complain about non-payment.

Retaliating or even threatening to retaliate against a freelancer is a separate violation of FIFA that entitles the freelancer to additional damages.

Concluding How Does The Freelance Isn’t Free Act Help Freelancers Get Paid?

In the vast urban sprawl of New York, freelancers face many challenges. However, with the Freelance Isn’t Free Act (FIFA), they’re armed with vital protections ensuring payment and respect for their work. FIFA sets clear rules and consequences for companies, emphasizing the significance of freelance contributions. Reports from the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection vouch for FIFA’s effectiveness, with its range of protections, from penalties to anti-retaliation measures. To New York freelancers, the city not only recognizes but also legally safeguards your efforts and rights.