Freelance Isn’t Free: A Guide to NYC’s Freelance Laws

Minorities In Media Connect
Minorities In Media Connect

Originally appearing on

By: Shay M Lawson

Two weeks ago the New York City Council unanimously passed the Freelance Isn't Free bill. So here is what you need to know about it:

  • It creates legal protections specifically for Freelancers
  • It requires a written contract for any gig over $800
  • It requires payment no later than 30 days after the work has been completed
  • It gives the State court power to award double fees and attorney fees if enforced
  • It requires the Office of Labor to collect data on violators
  • It creates fines of up to $25,000 for repeat offenders

This is a huge step in favor of freelancers who have long had to chase down their money or often times not get paid with no legal recourse. This could literally change the landscape of freelancing forever. 

Keep in mind, until Mayor de Blasio signs it into law, and all the appropriate enforcement is taken, there is no clear sign of when (or if) the legislation will take effect. 

Until then, my freelancing friends, always get everything in writing. As a freelancer every single penny counts and you have no way of getting your money from a nonpaying client without a binding, written agreement. If it's enough money to get mad about, you need a contract for it.

Moreover, if you need health insurance, tips on finance, general rights as a freelancer please check out The Freelancers Union that has a ton of resources and tools. If there were ever a time to rally support for a law, this would be it. If passed, this could change the game for freelancers everywhere.