Effective May 15, 2017, New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act aims to ensure that freelance workers in New York City are paid on time and in full. FIFA, which covers contracts and agreements made on or after May 15, 2017, does the following:

  • Requires a contract (or multiple contracts over a 180-day period) worth $800 or more between freelance workers and hiring parties to be in writing.
  • Prohibits hiring parties from paying freelance workers late or underpaying them.
  • Protects freelance workers against retaliation for asserting their rights under FIFA.

Freelance workers are individuals hired or retained as independent contractors to provide services for compensation, even if incorporated or using a trade name and without regard to their immigration status. Certain workers are excepted from coverage, including employees; individuals who agree to perform services for no pay; certain sales representatives and licensed attorneys and medical professionals; individuals hired or retained by any federal, state, local or foreign government; or businesses and other organizations that have more than one person.

The written contract must include the names and mailing addresses of the freelance worker and hiring party, an itemization of all services to be provided, the value of the services, the rate and method of compensation and the date of payment or the mechanism by which the payment date will be determined. If silent on the final point, payment is due no later than 30 days after the services under the contract are completed. Both the freelance worker and the hiring party must keep a copy of the contract.

FIFA may apply to work performed outside of New York City, depending on the circumstances, including where some of the work is performed in New York City or the hiring party has significant operations in New York City.

Freelance workers must file claims for failure to provide a written contract under FIFA within two years of the alleged violation; claims for nonpayment, underpayment or act of retaliation must be filed within six years of the alleged violation. Remedies may include damages equal to the value of the contract, a $250 fine, double damages for nonpayment or underpayment, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees and costs.