Helping To Protect Freelancers From Harassment2 min read
Specialized independent work is growing in this country, from coast to coast, but with that growth has come some growing pains. From healthcare to retirement planning, freelancers are tasked with total independence for much of their professional journey, becoming CEO, CFO and CMO all at once. For many, the trade offs are well worth it, creating flexibility and control. But while much needs to be done to embrace independent work through reforming our definitions of benefits, disability insurance and retirement, there is one glaring area where many freelancers have almost no one to turn to, and that’s sexual harassment.
Unlike traditional W-2 employees, most freelancers do not have institutional resources like a Human Resource department or even governmental bodies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to turn to in a time of need. While platforms like Fiverr have Terms of Service that govern the treatment of community members and create a formal outlet for claims, 80 percent of freelancers still operate independently of digital marketplaces, leaving many vulnerable in terms of their treatment and financial dependence on offending clients.
Fiverr and AND CO represent a broad community of freelancers with a vision of standardizing the freelance lifestyle to create sustainable, long term opportunity. Addressing this glaring issue for more and more freelancers is one of the most important aspects to bringing that vision to life. That’s why today, Fiverr and AND CO are announcing the creation of the first Standardized Freelance Contract with built-in sexual harassment protections. The language–which will come in every contract created through AND CO–includes the following protections:
• Notice that forms of harassment will not be tolerated
• Agreement to create a safe work environment
• Express notice that this behavior is expected from all people at a client company
• Detail that the freelancer has the right to terminate the arrangement if faced by harassment; if freelancer does so, the client must
(i) pay them in full
(ii) do so within 30 days
(iii) compensate the freelancer for any lost work
We recognize this is a small step in a much longer journey, but it’s an important one. One year ago today, the Freelance Isn’t Free Act was passed in New York City, and our original AND CO contract contained language that maintained that local law’s protections and extended it to our national community. Our goal then was no different than now: to take the most robust protections available and make them what every freelancer expects and demands from his or her clients. Insisting upon financial protections in the instance of sexual harassment is key to removing monetary pressures from expectations of fair treatment, and we hope it begins to give freelancers everywhere the chance to speak up without risking their well-being.
We hope to see this kind of language baked into every contract freelancers sign, and from now on, it will be on AND CO.