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Do Freelancers Have Employment Rights in New York City?

freelanceDo you have rights if your work is freelance?

In New York City, the definition of “employee” is very broad. It can include not only traditional full-time and part-time workers, but also interns and other types of workers. This means that many people who think they are freelancers may be employees under the law.

According to New York’s Department of Labor, an employer-employee relationship may exist if workers:

  • Are subjected to supervision over the location, time, and performance of services
  • Receive equipment, tools, or supplies to help them perform their duties
  • Are required to work certain hours which are not under their control
  • Must provide exclusive services
  • Have a set rate of pay
  • Must attend meetings or training events
  • Must provide oral or written reports
  • Need approval or review of their work
  • Have their job performance evaluated
  • Must require permission for absences
  • Face termination

It’s also important to consider an individual’s compensation and the nature of the services performed. It is a combination of all of these factors that help determine if someone is an employee or freelancer.

You can read more about the protections available in New York under the Freelance Isn’t Free Act here.

As a general rule, independent contractors must be left free from:

  • Supervision
  • Direction and
  • Control in the performance of their duties

Employee Rights

As an employee, you have certain rights under the law.

For example, you have the right to compensation for your work, and you have the right to work in a safe and healthy environment. You also have the right to join or not join a union, and the right to file a complaint if you believe an entity has violated your rights.

However, because freelancers are not considered employees, they are not entitled to the same rights and protections as employees.

For example, federal minimum wage laws do not apply to freelancers. They are also not automatically eligible for unemployment benefits or workers’ compensation if they are injured on the job.

If you are a freelancer who has been treated unfairly by your employer, you may still have legal options. You should consult with an experienced employment law attorney to discuss your specific situation.

Instead of employment rights, freelancers receive protection from contractual rights. If you have concerns about a client taking advantage of your professional relationship, it’s best to address and prevent those concerns when designing a contract. Doing so means you’ll have a formal legal document governing your working relationships.

Misclassification as a Freelancer

If you’re working as a freelancer, but feel like you’re being treated more like an employee, you may be misclassified. This can happen if you’re working regularly for one client, set hours, and doing the same type of work as an employee would do. But there are some key differences between employees and freelancers that you should know about.

As a freelancer, you should receive compensation for each project or task that you complete. You should also have the freedom to work when and where you want. If you don’t feel like you have these freedoms, you may be misclassified as an employee.

Misclassification can happen by accident or on purpose. Sometimes, employers misclassify workers to save on costs like taxes and benefits. Other times, they may not be aware of the rules around classifying workers.

Do You Have Concerns about Your Rights as a Freelance Worker?

If you think you’ve been misclassified, there are a few things you can do. You can talk to your employer about it and try to agree on changes to your work duties or a new classification. If that doesn’t work, you can file a complaint with the Department of Labor or your state’s labor office.

You may also want to speak with an attorney to get more information about your rights and what options you have. For more information, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. to schedule a free consultation.


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