If you’re a freelancer, you’ve probably had the wonderful, life-affirming experience of basically working for free. With over 70% of freelancers having experienced late or non-payment, you’re definitely not alone. But you’re in luck, because the Freelancer’s Union is working on making deadbeat clients a thing of the past.
At present, if a freelancer isn’t paid there’s very little that they can do and it’s costing the average freelancer $6000 a year. So, the Freelancer’s Union is campaigning to get its ‘Freelance Isn’t Free’ Act passed in New York City. Although it’s very local at the moment, this grassroots approach might be just what’s needed to get the ball rolling across the US (Sara Horowitz does a great job of explaining why here.)
If passed, the act will protect freelancers from non-payment. Instead of forcing freelancers to chase up dodgy clients, they’ll actually have legal recourse. Here’s what the act will do:
- For any work over $200, there has to be a contract which covers the scope of the work, payment method and the deadline for payment. What’s more, the client will be responsible for drawing up the contract!
- No more of that dreaded statement – “I can pay you now if I can pay you less.” Clients have to pay the full amount. Timely payment shouldn’t have to mean getting paid less.
- Payment has to be received within 30 days of the date given on the contract.
And if this doesn’t happen?
- Freelancers can make a complaint through the Department of Consumer Affairs and take legal action against any clients who don’t pay.
- If the freelancer wins the case, clients will also be responsible for any legal costs. This means freelancers won’t end up losing even more money on the case. On top of that, clients can be fined for double the original cost, so they’ll get a taste of their own medicine.
- Clients who knowingly and willingly engage in unlawful payment practices could face a criminal misdemeanour and there will be anti-retaliation clauses so that clients can’t take action in return.
We think this is a fantastic idea that will make sure freelancers have the same rights as full-time, salaried employees. For nearly a third of New York’s workers, that will be wonderful news. On top of that, it could encourage similar movements around the US – and globally – so that freelancers everywhere finally have protection against dodgy clients!
Read more about the campaign here.
And make sure you sign the petition to make the Freelance Isn’t Free Act a reality!