In this article we will take a quick look into how the freelancing community works in the United States. In 2018, Gig workers contributed $1.28 trillion to the US economy (MBO partners, World Economic Forum, Visual Capitalist) and according to a Forbes article, the number of gig workers is growing three times faster than the number of regular workers in the US workforce. With these big numbers, it is not surprising that in the next few years, the gig economy will thrive even more.
Freelancers are enjoying the flexibility offered in the gig economy whilst earning money based on their work outcomes and working on their passions. In addition to that, these modern day workers are also independently taking comfort in the reality that they are not restricted or trapped in traditional nine-to-five jobs. Even if the gig economy is said to be the ideal working environment, it cannot be denied that limitations are always to be taken into account so understanding your rights as a freelancer are important to protecting yourself and your business.
In 2017, New York City enacted the “Freelance Isn’t Free Act” that helps to protect freelancers from discrimination and harassment giving independent contractors “the right to a written contract, timely and full payment, and protection from retaliation”. There are also federal laws that protect freelancers and contract workers such as the legal right to your autonomy and your workflow (how, where, when you complete your work). In work ownership, the Copyright Act of 1976 also provides the freelancer the independence to own the rights to all of the products a freelancer creates unless a contract was made.
To note, Federal laws may not give you automatic protections as a freelancer, but you can outline whatever rights you want in your contract. Some important points to include are:
- Specify how much will you be paid for the duration of how many days/months.
- Seek legal counsel if you’d be making your own contract or if the employer gave you one.
- Discuss Intellectual Property rights and ownership of what is made whilst learning from the employing company and working with them.