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What is the Freelance Isn’t Free Act?


Your questions about workers’ rights, answered

What is the Freelance Isn’t Free Act?

In New York City, independent contractors have legal protections under the Freelance Isn’t Free Act. Under the Act, NYC freelancers must receive a written contract outlining the service they will provide and the rate. The Freelance Isn’t Free Act gives independent contractors the right to be paid by the contract due date, and freelancers can file a claim to receive double the contract amount if the hiring party refuses to pay or pays late. Freelancers who win their claim can also receive attorney fees and costs.

The Act requires a written contract if a freelancer performs $800 or more of work in a four month period. Clients must pay freelancers within 30 days of finishing the contracted services, absent a specific date for payment in the written contract. The law also bars clients from offering freelancers less money in exchange for a quicker payment. Under the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, clients cannot retaliate against freelancers who pursue non-payment or underpayment claims.

What are my rights under the Freelance Isn’t Free Act?

Under the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, independent contractors in New York City must receive a contract for work that has a value of $800 or more. The contract must list the freelancer’s and the client’s names and addresses, a list of services and their value, a description of the rate and method of compensation, and the deadline.

If the client does not pay the freelancer by the deadline, or within 30 days of the completion of the services, freelancers can sue. The court can award freelancers up to double the stated amount in the contract, even if the client claims the services were incomplete or not satisfactory. Freelancers have six years to file a complaint for nonpayment, underpayment, or an act of retaliation. Freelancers can also file a complaint if they do not receive a written contract.

Was the Freelance Isn’t Free Act signed?

Yes; Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the Freelance Isn’t Free Act into law on November 16, 2016. The law, which provides protections for NYC freelancers, went into effect on May 15, 2017. In its first year, the Freelance Isn’t Free Act recovered more than $250,000 in lost wages for NYC freelancers.

What is the Freelance Isn’t Free Act effective date?

The Freelance Isn’t Free Act went into effect in New York City on May 15, 2017. Under the new law, people who hire freelancers must provide a written contract that describes the services and the deadline for completion of the contract. Freelancers can file a claim for nonpayment, underpayment, or an act of retaliation. They can also file a claim if they do not receive a written contract.

Is the Freelance Isn’t Free Act retroactive?

No, the New York City Freelance Isn’t Free Act is not retroactive. The requirement that freelancers receive a written contract for work that exceeds $800 in a 4 month period went into effect on May 15, 2017. Freelance work contracted before that date does not have to follow the Act’s requirements.

Where can I find a Freelance Isn’t Free Act sample contract?

Under New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act, clients must provide a written contract for freelancers who perform at least $800 of work within a 120 day period. The contract must include:

  • The name and mailing address for the freelancer and the client
  • An itemized list of services to be provided
  • The value of the services
  • A description of the rate and method of compensation
  • The date when the client will pay the freelancer

New York City provides a model freelancer contract that meets the law’s requirements.

What are the Freelance Isn’t Free Act regulations?

Under the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, NYC freelancers must receive a written contract that details the date they will receive payment for their services. The law includes fines for clients who do not provide a written contract, including penalties up to $25,000 for repeat offenders. The law also states that freelancers must receive payment within 30 days of completing the work.

The Freelance Isn’t Free Act also includes anti-retaliation provisions, barring clients from retaliating against freelancers who use the Act to receive payment. Freelancers can file in court to collect double damages, or double the amount owed in the contract, plus attorney fees.

What can independent contractors do if their rights are violated?

Independent contractors in New York City have protections under labor laws, in addition to the Freelance Isn’t Free Act. Under the Act, NYC freelancers can file a complaint with the city’s Office of Labor Standards for up to two years if they do not receive a written contract, or up to six years for nonpayment, underpayment, or an act of retaliation.

Independent contractors who have not received payment can contact a lawyer to protect their rights. The Freelance Isn’t Free Act covers attorney fees for freelancers who successfully receive payment on their claims.

Learn more about independent contractor protections, legal penalties, and filing a claim.

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