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Freelance Worker Protection Act

1. What is the Freelance Worker Protection Act?

The FWPA provides protections for freelance workers in Illinois. Under the law, freelance workers are entitled to all of the following:

  • A written contract (see templates here) that includes: 

  • Name and contact information of both the hiring entity and freelance worker

  • Itemization of products and services 

  • Rate and method compensation

  • Date of compensation due

  • Dates of services to be provided

  • Full payment for the services by the due date in the contract, or if the due date is not specified, within 30 days of completing the services outlined in the contract 

  • Protection from retaliation and/or other negative action for exercising rights under the FWPA

2. When does the FWPA go into effect?

The law goes into effect on 7/1/24, and applies to freelance contracts signed after that date.

3. I am a freelance worker. How do I prepare a contract?

The Department of Labor provides a model contract that you and your hiring entity can use as a basis for your agreement. The hiring entity must provide a written contract to the freelance worker upon the freelance worker’s request. Of course, you may wish to hire an attorney to help write or review the contract for you.

4. What if I have already performed work without having a formal contract?

A contract does not necessarily have to follow a certain format in order to be valid, and can include a paper document, an email, text message, or some other communication that describes goods or services that the freelance worker promises to provide in exchange for payment from the hiring entity/hiring entity, that both parties (freelance worker and hiring entity) have agreed to.  

5. Who is considered a freelance worker under the law?

Freelance workers must meet all of the following criteria under the law:

  • Independent contractor (see the independent contractor test here)

  • Providing products or services in Illinois or works for a hiring entity located in Illinois

  • Value of work equal to or greater than $500 over a 120-day period (can be multiple contracts) 

Freelancers can work in any industry, but common industries for freelancers include:

  • Film, video, and photography

  • Graphic and web design

  • Social media management and content creation 

  • Media and journalism

  • Translation services

  • Personal care (hair stylists, makeup artists, etc.) 

6. Who is not considered a freelance worker under the law?

Exceptions include:

7. I am an employee, not a freelance worker. How can I claim my unpaid wages?

If you are an employee, you are protected under the Wage Payment and Collection Act. You can learn more about the law or file a complaint here: https://labor.illinois.gov/laws-rules/fls/wage-payment-collection.html 

8. What do I do if have been misclassified as a freelance worker but am actually an employee?

Employees are protected from misclassification, which occurs if an employer treats workers as "independent contractors" when they are employees, under the Employee Classification Act. You can learn more about the law or file a complaint here: https://labor.illinois.gov/employees/employer-misclassification-of-workers.html 

9. Does the law only apply to work performed in Illinois? Are remote workers covered?

It may depend on the specific situation, but the Department has traditionally had jurisdiction to enforce Illinois laws for work performed in Illinois and/or for an Illinois company. If either the freelancer or the hiring entity is located in Illinois, the law applies.  

10. When can I file a complaint under the FWPA?

You can file a complaint under the FWPA if at least one of the following statements is true:

  • I was denied a written contract from the hiring entity, or the contract did not include all of the required information.

  • I did not receive full payment for the services by the due date in the contract, or if the due date is not specified, within 30 days of completing the services outlined in the contract.

  • I was retaliated against for exercising my rights under the FLWPA. 

 

Please note that complaints must be filed within 2 years after the date the final compensation was due.

11. What happens after I file a complaint?

IDOL will support the resolution of the issue by facilitating the exchange of information between the freelance worker and the hiring entity. Please note that IDOL does NOT have the power to investigate the complaint or issue penalties. The process is:

  1. The freelance worker files a complaint with IDOL.

  1. Within 20 days of receiving the complaint, the Department shall “initiate the information facilitation process” by sending the hiring entity a written notice of the complaint, or by notifying the freelance worker that the complaint lacks jurisdiction.  

  1. If the hiring entity does not respond, then it creates a “rebuttable presumption in any civil action commenced in accordance with this Act that the contracting entity committed the violations alleged in the complaint.” IDOL will provide the freelance worker with documentation of this. 

  1. If the hiring entity does respond, IDOL will send the freelance worker a copy of the hiring entity’s response and information about filing an action in court. 

  1. At this point, if the issue is not resolved, the freelance worker may bring a private action in Court against the hiring entity.

  1. The Department may follow up with you to confirm whether the issues is resolved.

12. Will the Department of Labor help collect the money my hiring entity owes me?

No. Although the Department may help you communicate with the entity that hired you regarding the compensation owed, the hiring entity must pay the freelancer directly.