Client Alert: New York’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act

What is the Freelance Isn’t Free Act?

The Freelance Isn’t Free Act was signed into law by Governor Hochul and will take effect May 20, 2024. The state Act will apply to contracts entered into on and after May 20, 2024. The state Act builds off of, and is substantially similar to, the existing New York City law that went into effect in May 2017.

The state Act amends New York Labor Law and creates new protections and remedies for New York freelance workers. The state Act is slightly broader than the New York City law and provides for more remedies and damages to aggrieved freelance workers.

Who is covered?

The Act governs relationships between a “hiring party” and a “freelance worker” engaged to provide services valued at $800 or more in a 120-day period. “Hiring party” is any person (other than certain governmental entities). “Freelance worker” is any person (or an organization composed of one or more people) who is hired on an independent contractor basis to provide services, where compensation equals or exceeds $800 in a 120-day period.

What this means if you’re hiring freelancers (aka, you are a hiring party):

You must abide by certain requirements under the law. The Act requires that when a hiring party engages the services of a freelance worker, the parties must enter into a written agreement, a copy of which must provide freelance workers (either in physical or electronic format).

There are certain minimum provisions that must be included in that written agreement, such as:

  1. the names and mailing addresses of the parties;
  2. a list of all services to be rendered, associated value of such services, and compensation rate and method of payment for such services;
  3. the payment due date (or payment schedule); and
  4. the work product delivery dates imposed upon the freelance worker.

Additionally, you must retain the written agreement for at least six years. You must compensate freelancer workers on or before the date when pay is due under the terms of the written agreement, or no later than 30 days after the completion of the freelance worker’s services. You’re prohibited from retaliating against freelance workers who exercise or attempt to exercise their rights under the law.

What this means if you’re freelancing (a.k.a., you are a freelance worker):

Beyond what is already mentioned, you have certain rights and remedies under the law with respect to your freelance engagement. Once you’ve begun rendering services under the written agreement, the hiring party is prohibited from reducing the agreed upon compensation. A freelance worker has a right to file a complaint with the New York Commissioner of Labor regarding any violation of the Act. A freelancer worker also has a right to bring a claim in any court of competent jurisdiction.

Why it matters:

The Act imposes certain requirements upon hiring parties and grants to freelance workers a number of rights and remedies. Hiring parties and freelance workers should ensure that agreements are compliant and up to date to include all of the necessary information required by the Act. 

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How can Meyer, Unkovic & Scott help?

We can help you understand what is required, whether you are the hiring party or the freelance worker. To learn more, please contact Maxwell Briskman Stanfield at [email protected] or 412.456.2870, or any other Meyer, Unkovic & Scott attorney with whom you have worked.