Last night, the freelance world erupted when Fashionista, a news site for fashion insiders, posted that Condé Nast had recently instituted a payment policy that would violate the Freelance Isn’t Free Act. The article originally accused the magazine publisher of imposing a fee for freelancers who wish to get paid for their work on time.
Since its publication, the article has been updated to reveal that the policy applies exclusively to vendors, not independent workers. Many of our members have pointed out that an “early payment discount” is common practice among corporate vendors.
Freelancers mobilized quickly against the announcement by sharing the post on social media and alerting Freelancers Union representatives. It is unclear whether Fashionista misunderstood the new policy or Condé Nast made a few fast edits to appease its sizeable freelance workforce, but the swift response definitely sent a message: Freelance Isn’t Free.
Last year, freelancers in New York City came together and achieved the unanimous passage of the Freelance Isn’t Free Act at City Hall. The new law, which goes into effect May 15, stipulates that all freelance agreements over $800 must be codified with a contract and freelancers must be paid within 30 days (unless otherwise stated). Freelancers also have more incentive to pursue payment in small claims court as businesses could be found responsible for double damages and legal fees if a judge rules in the freelancers favor.
But, our work isn’t finished: predatory payment practices are all too common among organizations that hire freelancers. The change that needs to happen goes deeper than the letter of the law: we need to organize to change a culture that undervalues freelance work. In order to enforce the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, we need to work together to educate freelancers about their rights, help freelance-friendly businesses be in compliance and blow the whistle on businesses with bad policies.
The outcry over a potentially bad policy at one of New York City’s biggest freelance employers is a great start, but together, we can do more. That’s why we’ve created the Freelancers Union Action Network, designed to share resources about rights and contract negotiation, identify bad actors, as well as swarm and organize when deadbeat clients try to find loopholes around payment protection laws like the Freelance Isn’t Free Act.
Join the Freelancers Union Action Network today and stand up for the new workforce.
Note: If you are having or have had payment issues with Condé Nast, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura is the Editor at Freelancers Union blog, the leading publication dedicated to empowering the independent workforce, with over 300 contributors and 2 million readers nationwide. For fun, she writes about community, poetry and modern philosophy. Subscribe to her TinyLetter here or find her @Pennyscientist.