New Protections for Freelance Workers
Many employers that do not want to commit to hiring a permanent employee with the accompanying expenses such as medical benefits, often hire freelancers for such things as public relations, computer programming, care-giving and housekeeping. Many times the employment relationship is informal, based on nothing more than an oral understanding and many times the freelancer is not paid. A brand new, New York City, law tries to put this to an end.
The law, called the Freelance Isn't Free Act, L. 2016/140, now requires, that upon demand, an employer of a freelance worker must provide a written contract and the freelancer must be paid pursuant to it, or the employer will suffer dire consequences.
The law defines a freelance worker as a single person, working as an individual, a solely owned corporation or other entity, who is hired as an independent contractor by any person to provide any services in return for compensation. Excluded are sales representatives, lawyers, and licensed medical professionals.Anytime the aggregated compensation for a given job exceeds $800, a written contract is required (when demanded by the worker). The penalty for not doing so is $250 plus reasonable attorney's fees. The contract must, among other things, contain an itemization of all services to be provided, the value of the services, the rate and method of computation and the date payment is due.
Once work has commenced, the employer cannot require as a condition of timely payment that the worker take less money. The worker must be paid on time and the employer cannot retaliate against the worker for demanding his rights under the law. An employer failing to pay pursuant to the contract is subject to an award of double damages, reasonable attorney fees and costs, plus statutory damages equal to the value of the contract.
The law takes effect on May 15, 2017.
Novak, Juhase& Stern have represented both employer and employees in labor disputes for over 30 years. Our firm will draft freelance contracts and defend or prosecute Freelance Act actions. Please contract our office if you have any questions.
Kim Steven Juhase, ESQ.
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