Zwicker & Johnson Bill to Protect Freelance Workers Advanced by Labor Committee

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker and Gordon Johnson sponsored to ensure fair treatment of the hundreds of thousands of freelance workers in New Jersey was advanced Thursday by the Assembly Labor panel.
The bill (A-4410) provides that a freelance worker must be paid the compensation earned according to work terms agreed to by the freelance worker and its client, and requires the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to act as a regulatory agency regarding these work agreements.
“Freelance workers aren’t free,” said Zwicker (D-Mercer/Somerset/Hunterdon/Middlesex). “Freelance workers must be paid the compensation they’ve earned, and we need to ensure this basic fairness afforded to every other worker. Freelances are a valuable part of our workforce, and they provide many services, but too often they lack basic protections. This bill will ensure they’re treated fairly, benefiting our economy and, in the end, everyone.”
“Freelance workers are invaluable,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “Many businesses rely on them for all types of work, and that’s great, but these workers deserve equal protections under the law. This bill is fairness, plain and simple.”
The bill is designed to respond to the needs of, the self-employed, such as CPAs, freelance writers or graphic designers. Statistics from 2014 – the last year for which data is available – show that both the number and the total receipts have been rising in New Jersey. Statewide, there were 653,271 of these “non-employer” businesses in 2014, with gross receipts approaching $38 billion, representing a large increase from 2007, the last year before the recession, when New Jersey had 590,485 such businesses generating $32.4 billion in receipts.
The three New Jersey industry sectors with the greatest number of these businesses in 2014 were “Professional, scientific, and technical services” (113,394), “other services” (76,421), and “real estate, rental and leasing” (93,634).
“The self-employed are generally people that are working on their own and have no administrative support,” Zwicker said. “Failure to get paid on time poses a significant burden on them, and their only remedy currently is litigation, which is costly and time-consuming.”
The Freelancer’s Union, a New York-based advocacy group that supports freelancers, reports that 70 percent of freelancers said they’ve had trouble getting paid for agreed-upon work. The group estimates that freelancers lose an average of $6,000 per year due to non-payment.
“Every hour these workers spend trying to chase down invoices is an hour that they could be spending doing the work they do or drumming up new business<" Johnson said. "These businesses are generating billions in economic activity in this state, and it is only fair that we try to find ways to have our state's government help them address their needs."