If you are a small business owner, you’ve probably hired a freelancer by now for something. Participating in the gig economy is nearly unavoidable at this point since so many workers have transitioned to working independently. According to research done by Freelancers Union & Elance-oDesk, there were 53 million Americans or 34 percent of the US workforce that worked as freelancers in 2014.
Not only is a lot of the work small businesses need now done by freelancers but small businesses are happy to take advantage of the convenience, creativity, and lower cost that freelancers can provide. Unfortunately, though, some of them also take advantage of a freelancer’s contractor status.
Many freelancers aren’t getting paid for the work they do. There is no labor board protecting these workers and people who are in it for themselves can sometimes face some very unprofessional treatment.
The government protects workers that are classified as employees. There are rules in place for timely payment, minimum wage, overtime, and plenty others. Sure, companies sometimes violate these rules but, generally, people want to stay out of trouble with the DOL.
No Protection For Contractors
Contractors, however, don’t have the same protections. If a freelancer charges too little for a job and ends up making under minimum wage, the DOL won’t care. If the freelancer works 70 hours in a week on a project for a client, overtime isn’t an issue. And if a company doesn’t pay a contractor on time, the DOL isn’t going to come after them with violations and fees.
The World’s Largest Invoice
While there may be no protection under the FLSA for contractors, there’s still integrity, right? Whether with a verbal or written contract, when we hire people to do work for us and we agree on payment, we should pay, and pay on time. It’s like people forget how to do business outside of the traditional business landscape.
In response to this forgetfulness the world’s largest invoice is in progress now. Freelancers everywhere are adding their unpaid invoices to this nightmarishly long tally.
The Freelancer’s Union
Freelancers shouldn’t be subject to such inequality and unfairness and, hopefully, in the future they won’t be. As the landscape of workers changes so will expectations and protections. The Freelancers Union is working to make this change. They are not technically a union since freelancers aren’t technically employees but the Freelancers Union is an organization working towards fair treatment of independent workers. The Freelancers Union is building strength in numbers and is already breaking ground in New York with their freelance isn’t free act. They aim to hold businesses responsible for the contracts they enter into with freelancers and help the country realize that the free in freelance means autonomous and not gratis.
Helping Freelancers Get Paid
Are you a freelancer? Sign up for a free freelancer account with Timesheets.com (yep, we don’t charge for this) and track the time you spend working for your clients. Sending a report that breaks down the hours spent working on a project can be a big help in making sure your clients understand what they’re paying for.