The bill, Intro. 1017-2015 (see text) is purported to be one of the nation’s earliest efforts to deal directly with the growth in the so-called gig economy — a term that typically refers to temporary workers, contract workers, independent contractors and freelance workers. Many independent contractors have complained of slow or no payment or of hiring firms unjustly reducing the payments after completion of the work. The measure would go into effect 180 days after the signature of Mayor Bill DiBlasio, which is widely expected.
The most important feature of the bill is that it requires a written contract for anyone hiring the services of a freelance worker for a job with a value of $800 or more. The contract must contain a timetable and procedure for payment. Then, if payment for the services is not made as agreed or within 30 days of completion of the work, if no timetable is set in the contract, the freelancer could be awarded double damages plus attorney fees if he prevails in court.
Also under the measure, freelancers would file complaints with the City’s new Office of Labor Standards, which would tell companies of the complaints and seek a response. That agency could not assess fines or award damages. That would be left to the courts. However, the City Corporation Counsel is able to bring actions against employers shown to exhibit a pattern or practice of repeated violations.
The rule would clearly apply to freelancers who are City residents and who work for City-based firms. Less clear is whether a non-City resident would have a claim against a City-based firm. As the national economy leans more and more to freelance work this law could provide a template moving forward.
Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs: New York City Council Passes Freelance Rights Bill. Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs, October 28, 2016