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The Freelance Isn’t Free Act: New York Commits to State-Wide Protection of Independent Workers

Just before Thanksgiving, Governor Hochul signed Senate Bill S5026 into law; giving freelance workers throughout the state of New York a reason to be thankful.

Better known as the “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act, the new legislation replicates basic labor protections that have exited in New York City since May 2017, thereby expanding those protections to cover independent workers throughout the state.  As a result, all freelance workers being paid at least $800 for their services, shall benefit from basic labor protections including:

  • A written contract.
  • Timely and full payment.
  • Protection from retaliation.
  • Protection from acts of discrimination.

The Act provides specific guidance for what should be memorialized in a written contract.  Required provisions include an itemization of all services to be provided by the freelance worker, the value of the services, the rate and method of compensation, and the date upon which payment is due or the mechanism by which that date will be determined.

The Act also provides for an administrative process for the Department of Labor (DOL) to investigate complaints and a private right of action to pursue damages for violations of any rights contained therein.  The new law also requires that the DOL provide model contracts on their website, at no cost to the genera public.

In creating parity between traditional employees and independent contractors, legislators hope to minimize the extreme exposure to wage theft that New York freelance workers have endured for far too long.

(This blog, prepared by Campanella Law Office, is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to convey specific legal advice, nor is it intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship.)

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