On the Passage of New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act

Following is a statement from Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, on the unanimous passage today of New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which provides important fair-pay rights to workers engaged as independent contractors in New York City. The new law requires any private-sector employer who pays an independent contractor $800 or more to pay for the work within 30 days of the contract date, and to provide a written contract with details about pay. NELP strongly supports measures that provide employment rights to workers treated as independent contractors.

“Workers need to be paid for work performed, regardless of whether they are called a freelancer, a consultant, or an employee. We know that too many workers in today’s economy struggle to make ends meet, and employers’ failure to pay or failure to pay on time are two major reasons why.

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“Corporate leaders are increasingly deciding to contract out their labor, and in some of these jobs, unfortunately, workers are suffering wage theft in its many guises. These arrangements have drawn considerable attention in newer, high-growth industries like the on-demand economy. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of contract workers grew by more than half, while the overall workforce grew by only five percent.

“Millions of low-wage workers in home care, construction, janitorial, landscaping, and trucking labor in independent contract arrangements that can dilute job quality and outsource the legal accountability of employers that are setting the job terms. NELP’s primer on independent contractor misclassification outlines these trends, and our Rights on Demand report outlines basic principles for upholding good jobs and responsible companies in the on-demand economy. Our ‘Rights on Demand’ series shows that core labor standards like workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, and fair-chance hiring should apply equally to workers in the gig economy as they do to other workers.

“NELP applauds New York City Councilmember Brad Lander for his leadership in developing and introducing the bill, as well as our allies in the Freelancers Union and the labor movement on this important victory.”

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