May 2, 2023 - Business

Columbus adds pay protections for freelance workers

Illustration of Columbus City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Columbus City Council yesterday approved new protections for independent workers meant to guarantee correct and timely pay.

Why it matters: A growing number of Americans are turning to freelance work in search of flexible schedules and professional independence, but they often lack the basic workplace standards of traditional jobs.

How it works: Under the new ordinance, set to go into effect next month, Columbus-based employers are required to adhere to written contracts that specify pay rate and services rendered for work worth $250 or more over a four-month period.

  • Employers have 30 days from the completion of work to pay what's owed.
  • Freelancers can file complaints with the city, which will seek a resolution with the employer. If necessary, the city will connect freelancers with a local legal service and plans to pay for their representation.

Zoom in: The ordinance is a major victory for members of the Freelance Solidarity Project's Columbus chapter, a union made up of local freelance media workers.

  • Among them is Taylor Dorrell, a writer and photographer whose bylines have appeared in outlets like Matter News, Business Insider and Teen Vogue.

What they're saying: Dorrell tells Axios he spends a third of his work time following up with assignment editors and tracking down invoices — time that could be better spent honing skills or seeking new projects.

  • "This ordinance will change my life," he says.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to say the city will not issue direct penalties to employers found in violation of the new ordinance. The city will connect freelancers with a local legal service and possibly pay for their representation.

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