• Advocacy

Freelance Isn’t Free Passes in Los Angeles

Los Angeles freelancers just got new protections from their City Council! Last Friday, the city of LA adopted new legislation which secures legal rights and protections for freelancers. The new law stipulates that any contract of $600 or more between a worker and an employee must be in writing, and containing a date by which the worker must be paid. Unless a document contains a date there is no contract and the worker must be paid within 30 days after the work is completed. Employers can be sued for alleged violations of the ordinance - however, both parties must be located in LA.

The Freelancers Union was proud to partner with Councilman Bob Blumenfield and other advocates like the National Writers Union and to work on the LA adoption of the “Freelance Isn’t Free” legislation, which has been passed in other cities such as New York City and Seattle.

Blumenfield first introduced the motion for this legislation in January 2021, and said then: “There are a lot of Angelenos who work without contracts and aren’t considered ‘employees’ under federal, state and local labor laws, and thus need some basic workplace protection. This isn’t just about editors or graphic artists, this is about all freelancers and independent contractors like domestic workers who 'work their tails off’ and remain vulnerable to unfair pay disputes and other issues.”

There are over 300,000 freelancers in Los Angeles, which, according to Blumenfield’s office, is the second largest population of freelancers in the country.

Executive director of the Freelancers Union, Rafael Espinal, said that freelancers make up over a third of the country’s workforce, but that “our social infrastructure hasn’t kept up with this change, and many freelancers struggle with basic things like getting paid for the work that they do.”

According to Blumenfield’s office, nearly three quarters of freelancers have experienced issues with non-payment.

“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 and will provide a major victory for the hundreds of thousands of freelancers who contribute to the city’s economy,” Espinal said. “We are proud to have worked alongside L.A. City Council legislators, including Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, in making sure freelancers don’t get left behind.”

Though we are excited about this legislation as a first step towards protecting freelancers, the Freelancers Union notes that the law is limiting as it only applies coverage when both the freelancer and hiree are located in LA. We look forward to working with the City Council in the future to expand the coverage of the protections under their iteration of Freelance Isn’t Free and begin our work fighting for a state bill to protect all freelancers in California.

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