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New “Freelance Not Free” Law

A new “Freelance Not Free” law has just been passed by New York state (pending approval or veto by the governor) which gives the following protections to freelancers working there:

  • freelancers must be paid by the agreed date, or within 30 days of completion of the work;
  • freelancers must receive written contracts from the businesses engaging them;
  • a labour department enforcement mechanism will be set up to help workers recoup unpaid wages.

It’s an extension of the May 2017 law that previously applied just to NY City.  Importantly, the state legislation will cover not only freelancers based in New York, but also any freelancers contracted by a company that is based in NY state.  There is also a provision that prohibits companies from retaliating against freelancers who seek payments based on the rights they have been granted through the law.  Companies that violate any of the law’s provisions are subject to penalties of up to $25,000.

According to the NY council which agreed the legislation, the new law is intended to “protect contract and freelance workers from wage theft by ensuring all freelancers receive appropriate contracts for their work, are paid in a timely manner, and have state support to recoup unpaid wages.”

It can be really difficult at times for self-employed people to actually get paid for their work done, so this is a fantastic development for anyone working in New York.  Similar ideas have been discussed by policymakers in the UK over the years, so we’ll be pushing for them to revisit their thinking on this.  If NY can do it there’s no reason why we can’t.  It will certainly be interesting to see if other US states and/or countries adopt any similar legislation.

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