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Freelance Isn't Free Act recovered $250K in lost wages for New Yorkers in first year

New York City's Freelance Isn't Free Act went into effect one year ago, and in that time, it's already helped New Yorkers who work independently get the money they are owed.
freelance isn't free act
New York City officials looked at how the Freelance Isn't Free Act helped New Yorkers in its first year. Photo: iStock

Last year, city officials enacted the Freelance Isn’t Free Act as a way to protect New York City’s hundreds of thousands of independent workers. One year in, that move has helped recover more than $250,000 in lost wages.

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) released on Tuesday a report looking at the effects of the Freelance Isn’t Free Act in its first year.

That law, which took effect May 15, 2017, gives those who are self-employed certain legal protections when it comes to securing contracts, receiving timely payments and protection from retaliation.

Now that it’s been a year, the DCA looked at just how the law has actually been helping workers.

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DCA received 299 inquiries about the law and 264 complaints from freelancers over that first year. At 98 percent, the most common allegations by freelancers were about payment violations, like late payment or non-payment for their services.

Over the first year, DCA has recovered $254,866 in lost wages, according to the report.

The Navigation Program is the mediating authority for these workers within the Freelance Isn’t Free law, and out of those 264 complaints, the Navigation Program secured the full payment owned to 90 percent of those freelancers.

“I am proud of the success DCA’s Office of Labor Policy & Standards has had securing lost wages for freelance workers while empowering them to take action and seek help,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas in a statement. “Our report shows that making it clear to those that hire freelancers that there is oversight of new requirements, including issuing written contracts and making timely payment has been a successful safeguard for workers, leading them to being paid on time and in full.”

DCA will use their findings, Salas said, to improve their educational outreach efforts so that “all New Yorkers’ rights at work – whatever kind of work it is – are protected.” For more information about the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, workers and those who hire freelancers can visit nyc.gov/dca or call 311 and ask for “Freelance Workers.”