LOS ANGELES, CA – In order to further strengthen worker rights, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield introduced legislation calling on Los Angeles to implement basic protections for freelance workers. Blumenfield hopes to strengthen freelance workers' ability to get paid promptly and offer some leverage in an industry that historically has been rife with abuse, modeled after the  ‘Freelance Isn’t Free’ law in New York City.

“There are a lot of Angelenos who work without contracts and aren't considered 'employees' under federal, state and local labor laws, and thus need some basic workplace protections,” said Blumenfield. “This isn't just about editors or graphic artists, this is about all freelancers and independent contractors like domestic workers who ‘work their tails off’ and remain vulnerable to unfair pay disputes and other issues.”

“Los Angeles has one of the largest freelance populations in the country and client non-payment has been an issue many have faced with little to no recourse,” said Lloyd Lesperance, Chief of Staff of Freelancers Union which represent over half a million independent workers. “8 out of 10 freelancers experience nonpayment, cheating them out of thousands in owed wages. The pandemic has only exasperated these issues, and now more than ever, freelancers would benefit from the support of the City of Los Angeles. On behalf of all independent workers, we thank Councilmember Blumenfield for introducing this motion.”

The City of Los Angeles has consistently championed its workers by adopting laws designed to protect workers’ rights and improve their socioeconomic status. For example, the City has adopted the Minimum Wage and the Living Wage Ordinances, the Citywide Motel Worker Minimum Wage Ordinance, the First Source Hiring Ordinance, and various Worker Retention Ordinances. However, workers who are not employees but who work as independent contractors or freelancers have received less attention and legal protection. 

Blumenfield wants this new ordinance to take these protections a step further by requiring: 

  • Written contracts for freelance work exceeding a specified amount that outline the scope of work, rate, method of payment, and the payment due date
  • Payment within 30 days, in the absence of a written contract

He also calls for a local ordinance that provides a private right of action, including statutory penalties, as well as enforcement by the City. 

These measures are especially important as Angelenos are dealing with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the nature of paid work continues to evolve. Freelance workers include independent contractors, part-time moonlighters, full-time self-employed workers and others. Their work ranges from highly specialized professions in the tech, fashion and media industries to event planning, caregiving, housekeeping and more in the rapidly-expanding gig economy. Unfortunately, many of these independent workers struggle with nonpayment and delayed payment for work rendered.

Blumenfield’s motion specifically instructs the Economic and Workforce Development Department, in consultation with Bureau of Contract Administration and the City Attorney, to report back with recommendations for a local ‘Freelance Isn’t Free Act,’ including the appropriate scope of coverage, required or recommended exclusions based on State law or industry-specific considerations; and private and public enforcement mechanisms.