Over thirty-one thousand dollars. It’s embarrassing to admit, but that is the amount that I have been stiffed working as freelance web developer since I choose to leave a dead end job and strike out on my own back in 2003. These jobs were contracted, had set deliverables, were being done to spec and to the satisfaction of the client, when payment stopped. I learned the hard way with one of my first clients, (who was referred to me by my former CFO, and deemed trustworthy), who after 4 months of development work, bored of the project and up and left the country….leaving me with no money or legal recourse….and one very angry wife. From that experience the contracts and deliverables became much more specific. But as any freelancer will tell you, even this will not guarantee payment for the employer who simply does not want to pay. The startup runs out of money, overnight…the project manager pulls the plug (and all subsequent funding)….and my favorite, what should have taken 20 hours, took 60, and despite sign-offs, the powers that be refuse to pay the overage. Then comes the Herculean task of trying to get back what is owed you, without employing expensive lawyers or getting a reputation as someone who sues their clients, all while you try to earn money day to day as an independent contractor.
It is for this reason, that Hourly was not only started, but why we are emphatic about the rights of Independent workers, and doing all we can to support organizations and programs that address their needs. To this end, we are encouraging all of our members (and friends) to get out and support the Freelancer Payment Protection Act in New York, which would protect independent workers from unpaid wages, and deadbeat clients. Sponsored by the Freelancers Union, the bill has already been passed in the New York State Assembly, and now just needs the Senate to do the same before the legislative session ends in June. From there hopefully Washington will follow New York’s lead and protect the growing ranks of those of us working in the “Gig Economy”. Just because we work alone, does not mean we stand alone. Get Paid, Not Played!