Companies with independent contractors in Seattle need to take immediate action to comply with a new law passed by the Seattle City Council. The Independent Contractor Protections Ordinance, codified at SMC 14.34, took effect Sept. 1.

The law applies to solo independent contractors who perform any part of their work in Seattle for a commercial hiring entity if the contractor receives or is expected to receive at least $600 in total compensation from the hiring entity during a calendar year. If the hiring party knows or has reason to know that the work is being performed in Seattle, then the law applies, even if the hiring party has no preference as to where the work is performed.

Independent contractors are defined to include individuals and entities consisting of only one person. The law does not apply to workers being treated as employees by a staffing agency or consulting firm.

Commercial hiring entities are defined to include for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Modified rules apply to drivers for transportation network companies, such as ride-share services. There are also exceptions for lawyers and for contractors whose sole relationship to the hiring party is a property rental agreement.

Commercial hiring entities with independent contractors covered under the new law must:

  • Provide a written precontract disclosure to the contractor that includes at least 12 specified categories of information about the engagement. This disclosure must be in a single document in the contractor’s primary language. A model notice is available.
  • Provide written updates before making changes to any of the required information.
  • Provide timely payment consistent with the precontract disclosure terms or a later written contract. If no deadline for payment is specified, then the contractor must be paid no later than 30 days after the work is completed.
  • Provide an itemized, written payment disclosure accompanying each payment. The disclosure must be in a single document, such as a pay stub or invoice, and it must contain information in at least 12 specified categories.
  • Provide a written notice of the contractor’s rights under the new law. The notice must be in English and, if applicable, the contractor’s primary language. A model notice is available.
  • Maintain for three years records that demonstrate compliance with these requirements.
  • Refrain from retaliating against any contractor who asserts rights protected under the new law. Prohibited retaliation includes threatening to report that the contractor is an illegal immigrant. If any adverse action is taken within 90 days of a contractor’s exercise of rights, the law creates a rebuttable presumption that the action was retaliatory.

The precontract disclosure and disclosure of rights must be provided before work begins or, for contractors already providing services, by Sept. 30, 2022.

Penalties for violating this law may include payment of unpaid compensation, liquidated damages, civil penalties, other penalties payable to an aggrieved contractor, fines and interest. These penalties are in addition to any other relief available under any other law.