New Legislation to Protect Rights of Freelancers

J.M. Lesinski
An Uber Eats driver navigates traffic on 96th Street in Manhattan, New York.Photo byPhoto by J.M. Lesinski

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently signed into law the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, a key piece of legislation aimed at protecting the opportunities for recourse available to freelance and gig economy workers who experience non-payment for their work. 

“Every single New Yorker deserves to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace, whether they're a full-time, part-time or freelance worker,” Hochul stated of the legislation. “As freelance work becomes more and more common, we need laws have strong protections to ensure these individuals are paid fairly for the work they do. This new law is a major step forward for this critical sector of our workforce.”

The Freelance Isn’t Free Act, also referred to as legislation S.5026/A.6040, builds on New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Law, by implementing more oversight and enforcement from the New York State Attorney General’s Office. 

“Freelancing is a major portion of our economy,” remarked New York State Assemblymember Harry B. Bronson of the legislation. “Freelancers work very hard every day and prior to this legislation had very little protections if a client didn’t pay them for their work. This legislation puts an end to this abuse by requiring a written contract with payment provisions. It also provides for collection procedures through a private right of action or through the Attorney General’s office if the client fails to live up to the contract. By signing this legislation into law, Governor Hochul is ensuring timely payment for freelancers so they may provide for themselves and their families —Thankyou Governor Hochul. Through this legislation the State is saying to all Freelancers you and your work is valued. Thank you Senator Gounardes as well as the Freelancers Union and all the advocates for your work for this common sense approach to ending the economic discrimination against Freelancers.”

The legislation allows the Attorney General to bring actions on behalf of those freelance workers impacted in order to obtain remedies, such as damages and civil penalties. Additionally, freelance workers will be further protected by a right to a written contract with specific rights protections and the right to pursue a private lawsuit to protect their rights. 

"Today is a good day to be a freelancer in the state of New York,” Freelancers Union Executive Director Rafael Espinal said of the legislation. “This Thanksgiving we are thankful that New York State is committing to protections for freelancers under the law. We have the utmost confidence that NYS will lead the way in holding bad actors accountable and uplifting the independent workforce into the future. We are grateful to Governor Hochul for signing this bill into law and for our champions, bill sponsors Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assemblymember Harry Bronson for their commitment through its inception.”

The New York Department of Labor will provide model contracts on its website for those freelancers and hiring parties it applies to. These expanded rights apply to freelancers being paid at minimum of $800 for their work. 

“Every worker should be paid on time for their work, yet far too few freelancers have access to this basic right,” commented National Writers Union President Larry Goldbetter of the legislation. “We are grateful to Governor Hochul for taking action to expand worker protections for tens of thousands of freelancers, and look forward to building on Freelance Isn't Free to combat freelance wage theft in New York and across the country. We also want to thank Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assembly Member Harry Bronson for their years of persistence in championing this bill and fighting for freelancers, who will now have far more resources to collect the payment they're owed."

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I have worked as a professional journalist for over five years now, covering the arts, music, food, politics, and culture up and down both coasts of the United States. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno.

Buffalo, NY

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