Cary Moon Proposes Freelancer Bill of Rights and Limits on Non-Compete Clauses for Workers

9/6/17: Cary Moon says a Freelancer’s Bill of Rights and limits on non-compete requirements are two ways her mayoral administration will work to improve workplace conditions for Seattle’s modern-day workforce.

“In today’s gig economy the job market is changing in ways that no one thought possible ten years ago. Many people work job to job; often as contingent workers and freelancers, then as employees and back again. This kind of labor shift can mean freedom for family and school responsibilities, but it can also mean wage instability, unpaid invoices, and unfair limits on future work. As the city’s traditional career trajectory model shifts, it is vital that employees still have leverage as workers.

Everyone – whether they’re a contingent day laborer, barista, or a freelance coder – deserves freedom, respect and full payment for their time and hard work.”

An estimated 35% of the U.S. workforce is classified as freelance, and that number is growing. At some point, 7 in 10 freelancers will face nonpayment from a client, losing an average of $6,000/year according to the Freelancers’ Union.

Even if you’re an employee, you may be limited from future work opportunities by unfair non-compete agreements. An estimated 20% of U.S. workers are bound by non-compete agreements, and 14% of those make less than $40,000/year, such as Jimmy John’s employees.

“Seattle’s prosperity should provide shared opportunity and success for everyone, not just the lucky few. Too many of us are putting in longer hours and falling further behind. We need bold solutions that bring us toward a shared vision of living wages, access to affordable housing, and workplace health and safety rights for all Seattleites.

It’s time to address freelancer’s rights and stop curtailing competition and worker mobility in this rapidly changing economy. Everyone in Seattle should be free to engage in businesses and occupations of their choosing, and get paid a living wage for a full days work.”

As part of her Labor Week agenda, Cary Moon proposes two ideas to improve working conditions for employees and self-employed workers:

  1. Freelancer and Contingent Worker Bill of Rights: Modeled after New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act, Moon’s starting proposal would include:
  • Protections for freelancers and contingent workers earning 1099 income
  • Require payment within 30 days of work completion, with civil penalties similar to wage theft protections for non-payment
  • Anti-retaliation protections for freelancers pursuing payment
  • Require clients to provide contracts for work of more than $800 during a 4-month period.
  1. Non-Compete Agreement Ban: Modeled after California’s law, Moon’s starting proposal would include:
  • Prohibition against use of non-compete agreements for employers in Seattle
  • Exemptions for use of trade secrets
  • Exemptions for business partners and members of LLCs.

Last week Moon released her detailed policy proposal to ensure domestic workers are paid at least minimum wage, receive sick leave, work breaks and time off with a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

Many of these ideas come from groups like Puget Sound Sage, Casa Latina, Fair Work Center, Working Washington, M.L. King County Labor Council, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Freelance Workers Union, and others who have been spearheading this important work.

“I look forward to working with key stakeholders and community members to ensure we are centering the voices of those most impacted, and achieve the safety, fair wages, and basic protections they deserve,” said Moon.

Later this week Cary Moon will announce other proposals to improve Seattleites’ working conditions including:

  • technical assistance and certification program for businesses to meet Seattle’s fair workplace standards;
  • equal pay protections for women and people of color; and
  • ban on requiring salary history as condition of employment.