LA’s ‘Freelance Isn’t Free Act’ Goes Into Effect

Photo courtesy of Tony Schnagl

Last week, Los Angeles put the weight of the law behind freelancers with an ordinance addressing payment.

LA’s version of the Freelance Isn’t Free Act requires any freelance agreement of $600+ to be in writing and to include the date a freelancer will be paid.

If the contract doesn’t include that date or if there isn’t a contract, freelancers must be paid within 30 days of finishing work.

Clients who violate those terms can be sued, and potential consequences include statutory damages, double damages, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

LA’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act as introduced by Councilman Bob Blumenfield in January 2021. City Council passed a motion calling for it to be established in September 2022. And, as of February 24, 2022, it’s official.

With over 300,000 freelancers, LA is home to the largest population of freelancers in the U.S., according to a statement from Blumenfield’s office.

“It often takes weeks to months to get an invoice paid – if a payment even comes at all – and freelancers have virtually no recourse when they get stiffed,” the statement added.

“I’m proud to stand with the independent entrepreneurs who help make Los Angeles such a vibrant and creative community,” Blumenfield also said.

“The boundaries between traditional employment, freelancing, and gig work have become increasingly murky, leaving millions of workers unfairly excluded from US labor law. But everyone deserves to be paid on time, no matter what tax form you file.”

~ Eric Thurm, Campaigns Coordinator for the National Writers Union

“LA’s freelancers deserve” this type of protection, said Blumenfield.

Likewise, in 2016, New York City Council decided its freelancers deserve that protection too, and Seattle passed a similar bill that took effect in September 2022, noted the National Writers Union (NWU).

But these local regulations are just early steps toward a larger goal—national regulation.

Although applauding the progress in LA and the cities before it, Goldbetter, said, “But we must go further. We need universal coverage for work done by any freelancer anywhere, because that is how work is done today. We trust we can count on you as we take our campaign statewide, to Sacramento,” he said.

“With the passage of this law, Los Angeles is setting the precedent for a long-awaited state and national bill that makes payment protections for all workers the standard… said Rafael Espinal, executive director of the Freelancers Union, which worked with LA City Council legislators on this effort.


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