United States: NYC's New Rules Governing Freelance Agreements, And Preparing For NY State's Paid Family Leave Program

The Freelance Isn't Free Act

The landscape has changed for freelancers and their employers in New York City. As of May 15, 2017, the Freelance Isn't Free Act ("FIFA") is effective, and governs the relationship between freelancers and employers in New York City. Accordingly, both freelancers and the businesses that use freelancers would be well advised to ensure that their current policies are compliant with FIFA.

Who is Covered by FIFA?

FIFA applies to both freelancers and employers who hire freelancers in New York City. Principally, FIFA requires the hiring party and the freelancer to enter into a written contract if the value of the services provided is $800 or more over a period of 120 days. Put differently, if an employer hires a freelancer for multiple projects over a 120-day period, and the value of those projects is over $800, each agreement must be in writing.

Under FIFA, a freelance employee is defined as a natural person or organization comprised of no more than one person who is retained as an independent contractor to perform services for compensation. Salespersons, practicing lawyers and licensed medical professionals working as independent contractors, are excluded from FIFA's definition of a freelance employee. Further, freelancers hired by federal, state, local or foreign governments are also not covered by FIFA.

What Qualifies as a Written Contract?

Preliminarily, a draft model contract provided by New York City can be found here. Otherwise, FIFA sets out a few basic requirements for written contracts between employers and freelance employees. The requirements include: (1) the name and mailing address of the hiring party and freelancer; (2) an itemization of services to be provided by the freelancer; (3) the value of the services to be provided pursuant to the agreement along with the rate and method of compensation; and (4) the date on which either payment will be made or the mechanism by which the date of payment will be determined. Note that both the employer and the freelancer must retain a copy of the written agreement.

Rights Under the Written Agreement

FIFA prohibits employers from failing to pay freelances by the date specified in the written agreement. If the agreement does not specify a date for payment, then the employer must make payment within 30 days of completion of the agreement. Further, once the freelancer has begun performing under the agreement, an employer is prohibited from conditioning timely payment under the agreement on the freelancer accepting a lesser amount than that specified in the contract. In addition, FIFA prohibits employers from retaliating against freelancers who exercise their rights under FIFA.

FIFA Does Not Govern Who Is and Who Is Not an Independent Contractor

Whether a particular individual is properly characterized as an employee or an independent contractor is not governed by FIFA but rather by the Federal Labor Standards Act ("FSLA") and the New York Labor Law §§190 et seq. In other words, if a person should be deemed an employee under either of those statutes, then complying with FIFA would not legitimize the individual's status as an independent contractor. Accordingly, the initial analysis with regard to compliance with FIFA would first be to determine whether the individual is in fact properly an independent contractor under the FLSA and NY Labor Law.

Penalties for Violating FIFA

Failure to comply with FIFA can subject employers to a host of damages. These damages can range from $250 (for failure to enter into a written agreement), to double damages (for failure to pay the agreement on the date payment is due), to the value of the contract (for failing to enter into a written agreement and otherwise violating FIFA). In addition, employers are prohibited from retaliating against freelancers, and are liable for the value of the contract for each retaliation violation. Note also that under any of the above circumstances, a freelancer bringing a claim under FIFA is also entitled to attorneys' fees and costs.

Further, the New York City Corporation Counsel is empowered to bring civil actions against businesses that violate FIFA on multiple occasions. In such cases, the City may seek statutory damages up to $25,000, along with injunctive and other relief.

Additional Considerations

Generally speaking, FIFA only covers freelance workers performing services in New York City. However, the New York City Consumer Affairs Office has indicated that FIFA may also apply where: freelance workers perform some of the work in New York City; the freelance worker is hired or retained in New York City, or the employer has "significant operations" in New York City, among other factors.

The New York State Paid Family Leave Program

As you may know, as of January 1, 2018, all New York employers must provide a paid family leave insurance policy to all employees. This requirement applies even if you only have a single employee who is covered by the New York State Paid Family Leave Program ("PFLP"). Further, the family leave policy is funded through employee contributions, and employees are not allowed to opt out of making such payments.

Importantly, while the PFLP does not formally take effect until January 1, 2018, the payroll deductions required to fund PFLP-compliant policies go into effect July 1, 2017.

Accordingly, employers should: (1) reach out to their disability insurance carriers immediately to secure a quote for a PFLP-compliant policy; and (2) contact their payroll service to ensure that timely and accurate employee deductions are in place as of July 1, 2017. All disability insurance carriers doing business in New York must carry PFLP policies, and the PFLP deduction can be made in conjunction with an employer's existing disability coverage deductions.

In addition, employers should be aware of the following details concerning the PFLP and its implementation:

  1. Employees are eligible for coverage under the PFLP after 26 weeks of full-time employment or 175 days of part-time employment;
  2. In January 2018, the benefit provided under the PFLP is equal to 50% of an employee's average weekly wages, and it will incrementally increase to 67% by 2021;
  3. In January 2018, the benefit must be provided for 8 weeks, and the benefit term will be increased to 12 weeks by 2021; and
  4. PFLP policies cover family care, child birth, adoption and fostering, and active military duty.

In the meantime, employers should take steps to ensure that their employment manuals are up-to-date and comply with the PFLP's requirements.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.