This week, the founder of The Freelancer Club, Matt Dowling, was invited to join a panel of industry leaders to discuss the merits of new legislation with Catherine McKinnell MP in Parliament. The roundtable raised many interesting questions surrounding the issue of unpaid freelance work and the rights of freelancers. 

The group was joined via video feed by Sara Horowitz, CEO of The Freelancers Union. Sara and her team successfully pushed through the Freelance Isn't Free Act in New York City, a landmark piece of legislation that provides freelancers with the following: 

Mandatory contracts.
Freelance agreements for over $800 of work during a 4-month period must have a contract outlining the scope of work, rate, a method of payment, and the payment due date.


30-day payment terms.
Payment must be received within 30 days of work completion, or by the due date specified in the contract.


Payment agreement protections.
Clients cannot require that freelancers accept less than the contract stipulates in exchange for timely payment (ie: “We can pay you faster, but only if you accept less.”)


Contract responsibility.
The burden of having a contract falls on the client – not the freelancer. Clients can face a $250 penalty if they refuse to provide a contract.


Clients cannot retaliate against freelancer for pursuing payment.

The group discussed whether or not a similar bill would work in the UK and the consensus was largely positive. Some reservations were aired on the matter of reputation and, although there is an anti-retaliation clause, the question remains whether freelancers would publically name and shame companies for fear of getting black-listed. The reality for freelancers is that many are too worried about upsetting the apple cart, unequipped to take a company to court or simply do not have the funds to fight for justice. 

Catherine McKinnell MP concluded that the bill would not worsen the current situation and would help the freelance community in a number of ways. The proposed legislation would also create a value to the work freelancers are producing and make companies think twice about not paying. Very positive steps indeed and a bill we at The Freelancer Club fully support. 

However, one area the new legislation would not address, and the subject at the heart of our #NOFREEWORK campaign, is unpaid work. Companies asking freelancers to work for exposure, experience or prestige is still the main problem faced by freelancers today. It would be very complicated to create any piece of legislation to combat this issue as it overlaps with free trade and has numerous grey areas. 

The solution to the issue of unpaid work lies with education and action on a ground-level. Over the past few weeks, The Freelancer Club has been in talks with some of the leading names in fashion, film, TV and music. We are asking all brands to sign our petition pledging not to offer any form of unpaid work. We continue to visit universities to discuss the #NOFREEWORK campaign and educate the next generation of freelancers. 

To join the campaign and lend your voice, click below.