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Shall we bring the “Freelance Isn’t Free Act” to Santa Cruz?

By Sara Isenberg
Founder, Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, Santa Cruz Tech Beat

December 8, 2016 — Santa Cruz, CA

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New York was the first city to pass The Freelancers Wage Theft Protection Act. This bill creates harsh penalties for employers who delay or deny payment for freelancers and sets a strict window within which freelancers must be paid for their services.

County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty want to know if local freelances want it here.

County of Santa Cruz Third District Supervisor Ryan Coonerty is asking our freelance community if a Freelancers Wage Theft Protection Act would be of value. He would particularly like to hear from local freelancers who would have benefited from having this protection in the past. War stories anyone? Contact Coonerty at ryan.coonerty@santacruzcounty.us with your thoughts and experiences.

What is The Freelancers Wage Theft Protection Act?

According to New York City Council notes:

This bill would establish and enhance protections for freelance workers. Specifically: the right to written contract, the right to be paid timely and in full and the right to be free of retaliation. The bill would create penalties for violations of these rights, including statutory damages, double damages, injunctive relief and attorney’s fees.

From an article in Gothamist (10/27/16):

A day after it sailed through committee, a bill to protect New York City’s freelancers from wage theft unanimously passed the City Council, setting the stage for Mayor Bill de Blasio to sign it into law.

The Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which was first put up for consideration this past spring, creates harsh penalties for employers who delay or deny payment for freelancers and sets a strict window within which freelancers must be paid for their services.

“The Freelance Isn’t Free Act will make sure all workers can get paid for their work, on-time and in full,” said Council Member and lead sponsor Brad Lander.

Under the provisions of the bill, employers will have a 30 day window after a freelancer renders services (or after an agreed-upon date) to make payment in full. They will also be required to provide a written contract to freelancers working on projects for which they will be paid $800 or more.

Freelancers who bring successful litigation against employers in breach of the law will be entitled to double damages as well as attorneys’ fees. Employers will also be prohibited from retaliating against freelancers who seek to enforce their labor rights.

According to Lander, the bill is the first of its kind in the nation.

If you’d like to weigh in, contact Ryan Coonerty at ryan.coonerty@santacruzcounty.us.

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