A day after it sailed through committee, a bill to protect New York City's freelancers from wage theft unanimously passed the City Council, setting the stage for Mayor Bill de Blasio to sign it into law.
The Freelance Isn't Free Act, which was first put up for consideration this past spring, creates harsh penalties for employers who delay or deny payment for freelancers and sets a strict window within which freelancers must be paid for their services.
"The Freelance Isn't Free Act will make sure all workers can get paid for their work, on-time and in full," said Council Member and lead sponsor Brad Lander.
— Brad Lander (@bradlander) October 27, 2016
Under the provisions of the bill, employers will have a 30 day window after a freelancer renders services (or after an agreed-upon date) to make payment in full. They will also be required to provide a written contract to freelancers working on projects for which they will be paid $800 or more.
Freelancers who bring successful litigation against employers in breach of the law will be entitled to double damages as well as attorneys' fees. Employers will also be prohibited from retaliating against freelancers who seek to enforce their labor rights.
According to Lander, the bill is the first of its kind in the nation.
The bill also establishes a formal mechanism for the director of the Department of Consumer Affairs to enforce the labor rights of freelancers who are stiffed by employers.
Mayor de Blasio has not yet indicated whether he will sign the bill, though his office has signaled support for the legislation.
"This Administration, which worked closely with the City Council on this bill, supports laws that protect all New York workers," City Hall spokesperson Rosemary Boeglin wrote in an email to Gothamist. "Every person must be paid on time and treated fairly, whether their work is freelance or not."
A 2015 report from the Freelancers Union, which has supported the legislation, found that more than 70 percent of freelancers in New York report problems with receiving payment, which adds up to thousands of dollars a year in loss wages for the average freelancer.