Freelance Isn’t Free Los Angeles: What it Means For You

Good news, L.A. freelancers! We have exciting news to share with you that directly impacts the vibrant freelance community in the City of Angels.

It often takes weeks to months to get an invoice paid – if a payment even comes at all – and freelancers have virtually no remedies when they get stiffed. In a city founded on creative workers and in a country who celebrates independence, this should not be the case.

Recognizing the need for stronger protections, we approached City Council Member Bob Blumenfield to introduce the Freelance Worker Protections Ordinance (FWPO), or as we like to call it, Freelance Isn’t Free. After two years of working with the Los Angeles City Council, FWPO went into effect July 1st, 2023. This groundbreaking law aims to ensure that freelance workers in Los Angeles are treated fairly, compensated promptly, and granted the rights they deserve.

Who Is Covered?

Under Freelance Isn’t Free, freelance workers, defined as individuals or entities composed of no more than one person, are covered if they are hired by a Hiring Entity to provide services in exchange for compensation. It's important to note that freelancers covered by the law should have no employees themselves. Hiring Entities, on the other hand, should be regularly engaged in business or commercial activity, with the exception of those that hire app-based drivers for transportation or delivery services. Importantly, both the freelancer and hiring entity must be located in the city of Los Angeles.

How does it affect freelance contracts?

This legislation requires Hiring Parties to provide written contracts for agreements valued at $600 or more, whether they are standalone contracts or cumulative agreements made throughout the calendar year. This ensures clarity and transparency regarding the terms and conditions of the work. Freelancers are also entitled to a $250 award if the Hiring Party refused to provide a written contract upon request.

Does it cover nonpayment?

Hiring Parties are mandated to provide full payment as specified in the written contract or within 30 days after the completion of the work if no payment date is specified. This provision helps prevent unnecessary delays in receiving payment, thereby easing the financial burden on freelancers. Courts can award damages up to twice the unpaid amount for delayed payments.

The law also emphasizes record retention, with both Hiring Parties and Freelance Workers required to maintain records for four years. This ensures that necessary documentation is readily available in case of disputes or discrepancies.

Won’t employers get mad if I report them?

Importantly, this act prohibits Hiring Parties from punishing, penalizing, retaliating against, or taking any adverse employment action against Freelance Workers for exercising their rights. This provision is crucial in fostering a supportive and equitable working environment for freelancers.

How do I report a violation?

In the event of a violation, Freelance Workers can report complaints to the Bureau of Contract Administration, Office of Wage Standards (OWS), or pursue a civil action in court. Complaints submitted to the OWS must be filed within one year from the alleged violation. The OWS will then notify the Hiring Party of the complaint and their obligations under the law, facilitating a fair resolution process. In cases where a Freelance Worker prevails in court, they may be entitled to reasonable attorney's fees and costs, injunctive relief, and other appropriate remedies. Click to read more about the specifics of the law & download an informational PDF here.

So, what next?

The Freelance Worker Protections Ordinance is a significant milestone for freelancers in Los Angeles, setting a new standard for ensuring fair treatment and protection for freelance workers. With provisions that address written contracts, timely compensation, record retention, and protection against retaliation, the FWPO empowers freelancers to work with confidence and peace of mind. By understanding the rights and remedies available under this law, freelancers in Los Angeles can know that their hard work and contributions will be respected and protected.

Los Angeles is known for its iconic entertainment, arts and cultural economy. But what is less known is the role freelance professionals play in bolstering these sectors and driving growth. In fact, Los Angeles is home to the second largest population of freelancers in the United States, bringing in $20 Billion dollars of revenue per year. That’s why the implementation of this law is so significant.

Uncertainty surrounds California's freelancing job market and creative industries. Indeed, the state is at the heart of an ongoing labor dispute with the Writers Guild of America Strike, a looming Screen Actors Guild and UPS strike — demanding attention for improved labor conditions across California for the many who work outside the confines of traditional employment.

So amid all of the fights for worker’s rights, let's celebrate this important milestone and continue our hard work to bring these freelance protections across the United States!

Freelancers Union Creating a better future for all independent workers across the United States.

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