New York State Passes "Freelance Isn't Free Act"

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Senior Legal Editor

December 1, 2023

Companies that hire freelancers in New York soon will be required to enter into written contracts and provide timely payments under the state's new Freelance Isn't Free Act.

The new law is modeled after a first-of-its-kind law enacted in New York City in 2016. Since then, similar laws have been passed in Illinois, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Seattle. The nonprofit advocacy group Freelancers Union is campaigning to enact freelance-protection laws in other cities and states as well.

"As freelance work becomes more and more common, we need laws [with] strong protections to ensure these individuals are paid fairly for the work they do," Gov Kathy Hochul said in a statement. "This new law is a major step forward for this critical sector of our workforce."

The law takes effect May 20, 2024.

It applies only to contracts for $800 or more - whether in a single contract or when aggregated with all contracts between the same hiring party and freelancer during the previous 120 days.

The law lays out particular terms that must be included in each contract and requires timely payment within 30 days. The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) will make available model contracts on its website for public use in English and in the 12 other languages most commonly spoken in New York.

The Freelance Isn't Free Act also establishes retaliation protections for freelancers. Freelancers who believe their rights have been violated can either file a complaint with the NYSDOL, which has the power to investigate and disputes and to sue hiring parties, or bring an action seeking damages in state courts.