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The Graphic Artists Guild Urges Governor Hochul to Sign NY State Freelance Isn’t Free Act

The Graphic Artists Guild applauds the passage on June 8th, 2023, of the Freelance Isn’t Free Act (S5026/A6040) — for the second time — and urges New York Governor Kathy Hochul to sign the bill into law. We thank the bill’s sponsors, New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assemblymember Harry Bronson, for their tenacity and commitment to fairness for freelancers. The bill expands the protections provided by the New York City “Freelance Isn’t Free” legislation to those working or living in New York State: the right to a written contract, timely and full payment, and protection from retaliation.

In February 2022, Freelance Isn’t Free legislation was introduced by Senator Gounardes and Assemblymember Bronson. It was passed by an overwhelming majority of the New York State legislature that June. However, Governor Hochul vetoed the bill in December 2022 just hours before the holiday recess. The veto was a blow to advocacy organizations, who vowed to support the reintroduction and passage of the legislation in the next session.

Once enacted, the law will provide vital protections for freelance workers and independent contractors working in New York State who are dealing with non-payment and late payment of their invoices, as well as retaliatory harassment against those who seek fair remuneration. The law makes written contracts mandatory, requires 30-day payment terms, provides payment agreement protections, deters retaliatory harassment, and enables freelancers to collect double damages and attorney’s fees.

Once the newly passed bill is signed by Governor Hochul, New York will become the second state in the Union with state-wide protections for freelancers. On May 11, 2023, the Illinois State Legislature passed the Freelance Worker Protection Act, based on New York City’s legislation. That bill is awaiting signing by Governor Pritzker. On the municipal level, Los Angeles, CA and Columbus, OH have joined New York City in passing similar protections for freelancers and contract workers.

Such laws recognize that although freelancers are a significant portion of the US labor force, non-payment and late payment are chronic problems. 74% of freelancers report late payment, 72% report oustanding invoices that have not been paid by their clients, and 59% are owed $50,000 or more. In a survey last year of New York State freelancers, 62%  reported lost wages, 91% reported late payment at least once in their careers, and 39% reported that late payment and nonpayment affected their ability to pay bills.