June 21, 2012

Assembly Approves Silver Bill to Help Freelancers Wronged by Deadbeats Who Fail to Pay for Contracted Services

Legislation Would Permit the State Labor Department to Assist Independent Contractors Who Have Been Ripped Off by Unscrupulous Employers

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today announced the passage of his bill that gives the state Labor Department the authority to act on behalf of freelancers when they have not received payment for their services.

"This legislation will give freelancers access to the same level of support from the Labor Department to which the state's other workers are currently entitled. Under my bill, when freelancers are up against an unscrupulous employer who fails to pay them for their work, just like traditional workers, they too will be able to turn to the state Labor Department for justice and to recoup the payment they are owed," said Silver.

The bill (A.6698-C), which the Assembly also passed last year, would give the department the authority to investigate non-payment complaints and impose significant civil and criminal penalties against contractual employers who intentionally fail to pay freelancers.

Silver noted that the growing number of freelancers and independent contractors are critical to many of New York's emerging companies and industries that are competing in the new and transitioning economy.

"These graphic artists, computer programmers, engineers, accountants and other skilled workers are important to the future of our state's economy. This abuse of their services and the inability of the Labor Department to assist in the recovery of the monies earned by these workers is intolerable and can not continue. I urge the Senate to pass the bill this year so freelancers will have the peace of mind knowing that they have the full support of the Labor Department when payment for their services is wrongly denied," said Silver.

The provisions of the measure would define freelancers and independent contractors as individuals who are a sole proprietor and who are not an employee. It also defines a freelancer as a person who is hired or retained by a client for an amount greater than $600, which also is the criteria applied when a company or person is required to file a 1099 Form with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.