Empowering the Freelance Economy

Should PM Sunak take a cue from New York City Mayor Eric Adams on how to support freelancers?

Mayor Eric Adams has served the people of New York City as an NYPD officer, State Senator, Brooklyn Borough President, and now as the 110th Mayor of the City of New York
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New York City Mayor Eric Adams has played a critical role in getting justice for unpaid New York City freelancers as part of New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act. Read about how he and others took a company to court over late and unpaid invoices and won

The fashion industry is notorious around the world for paying sub-par freelancer rates and conveniently forgetting to pay invoices on time or at all. But if you are a New York City-based freelancer working in fashion that could no longer be the case.

Thanks to NYC Mayor Eric Adams, NYC Corporation Counsel Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix, and New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga an agreement with magazine publisher L’Officiel USA has been made to get freelancer invoices paid.

The lawsuit first hit headlines in 2021. It was brought by the city over the company’s failure to pay freelancers on time, fully, or at all, in violation of New York City’s “Freelance Isn’t Free Act.”

New York City will always support workers’ rights, especially for our freelancers who often don’t have access to as many benefits as full-time employees

Mayor Adams

Under the agreement, L’Officiel must pay more than $275,000 — double the amount owed — to 41 freelancers who came forward to the city with complaints, make a payment to the city, and come into compliance with the Freelance Isn’t Free Act going forward.

L’Officiel must also pay double damages to any other freelancer who files a claim showing they were not fully paid for services performed.

“New York City will always support workers’ rights, especially for our freelancers who often don’t have access to as many benefits as full-time employees,” said Mayor Adams in a statement.

“We will not tolerate companies that fail to pay freelance workers what they’re owed,” said Adams.

He continues, “Under this agreement, we will ensure the 41 freelancers who worked for L’Officiel get the money to which they’re entitled and ensure these violations do not happen again. Let this serve as a lesson: If you try to take freelance workers for a ride, we will hold you accountable. I urge any freelancer not properly paid by L’Officiel for their work to file a claim as quickly as possible.”

Corporation Counsel Hinds-Radix, said, “Freelancers must be paid for their labour, not only because they add to the city’s economic and cultural vibrancy — it’s the law,”

Hinds-Radix also said that other freelancers who were never paid by L’Officiel will be able to file claims to recover what they are owed. 

“The city will continue to protect workers and hold companies accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” said Hinds-Radix.

DCWP Commissioner Mayuga, said as the city’s workforce continues to evolve, it’s crucial that the government supports freelancers and ensure they are “protected from exploitation”.

Mayuga thanked the Department for bringing “hard-fought justice” for these workers.

“Any freelancer or worker who believes their rights have been violated should contact us immediately,” said Mayuga.

Signs the UK is becoming less freelancer friendly

UK-based freelancers denied support during the onset of the COVID pandemic from then Chancellor Rishi Sunak may be surprised to learn of how politicians in other countries are overwhelmingly supporting their freelancers. Increasingly, there are signs that the UK’s employment and tax policies are working against freelancers in an attempt to force more of them into PAYE Inside IR35 or unregulated umbrella companies.

Earlier this week The Freelance Informer reported on two trends that arguably support the theory that the UK is becoming less freelancer friendly. You can read the reports in full below:

Has HMRC conveniently “ignored” double taxation of IR35 for years?

Kermode: “UK tax system has become more unfriendly to self-employed”

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