New Legislation That Protects the Rights of Freelancers Passed in New York

Those of us working within the creative industry are often held captive to an unwritten rule: working for free. No other field suffers the same stigma; we don’t expect our laywers, our handymen, or our child-minders to work without payment. So, why is it so often expected that we will?

Sure, we’ve all indulged in a project or two to gain experience or with the aim of getting a foot in the door. But all too often, photographers fall victim to hostility purely for requesting they be paid for their time and efforts. However, thanks to a new law passed in New York City, that may all be about to change.

As of October 27, the Freelance Isn’t Free Act officially passed in NYC with 51 votes. This will affect around 38% of the workforce in NYC. The total number of freelancers in the US is said to stand at 55 million.

The victory comes after the Freelancers Union campaigned for change for over a year. It’s a huge step in securing the rights of freelancers, as the Department of Labor Standards will now accept complaints against clients who are either late or refusing to make a payment for freelance work that has been carried out. Fines may even be distributed via small claims court. You can look over the legislation here.

Will this act catch on and become legislation in other states and around the world? Will this date be remembered as a milestone for not only creatives, but freelancers in general? Only time will tell.

[via Freelancers Union]

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Spy Black's picture

Very cool. Hopefully this does indeed expand outwards.

Jon Barrett's picture

How does this legislation ensure that freelancers do not work for free? None of the "protections" kick in until someone hires a freelancer for over $800, and at that amount, the only requirement is that there is a contract with a payment provision. There will always be photographers willing to work for free and companies trying to exploit that. Know your value and always have a contract.

Chris Adval's picture

Why should the industry accept doing jobs before being paid? I go to any chain store, or established small businesses and they most of the time expect balance paid in full or a deposit if its a service that takes more than a day to complete. Pay it in full should be expected these days, especially from established businesses/freelancers. I get why clients don't want to give full cost upfront, trust is harder when its just a person/freelancer individual and its harder to track and hunt down for completed work at times.