Most people know that it is against the law for employers to not pay their employees their earned wages. But what if you are not an employee, but instead making a living as a freelance worker. Because freelance workers are not considered employees, the laws that require employers to pay its employees their wages, such as the New Jersey Wage Payment Act and federal Fair Labor Standards Act, do not apply to freelancers. While there are some laws such as the Independent Sales Representative Rights Act that protect independent sales representatives from not being paid their earned sales commissions, there is no specific law to protect many freelance workers. As a result, companies are far too often stiffing their non-employees from being paid their earned compensation.
New Jersey lawmakers have recognized this as a serious problem in today’s workforce and are now attempting to pass legislation to protect freelance workers from getting paid their earned compensation. Assembly Bill No. 1526, approved on May 18, 2018, mandates that contracts between a company and a freelance worker, must now be in writing, and provides for severe penalties against companies for shirking their duty to pay a freelance worker the compensation they are owed.
The bill requires a client to pay a freelance worker his or her compensation earned according to the work terms agreed to with the client. If there is no agreement, payment shall be paid no later than 30 days after completion of the work or services performed. The bill defines the term “client” to be any “sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, association, other business entity or nonprofit organization in which that business has contracted with a freelance worker for compensation equal to or greater than $600.”