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05 July 2017

Call for fairer treatment of freelancers

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell has backed freelancers in their push for fairer treatment from large corporations.

Following her inquiry into payment times and practices, Ms Carnell said there was a demonstrated need for quicker payments to small businesses operating as creative soloists, contractors and freelancers.

“Some larger companies are pushing freelancers to breaking point and there are no rules in Australia that prevent this,” she said.

“Freelancers generally work alone and can’t afford to be waiting three months or more for payment.

“There’s no justification for standard invoices to not be paid in 30 days or less.”

Ms Carnell said New York payment-terms legislation might be relevant to Australia if big business can’t get its act together voluntarily.

The “Freelance Isn’t Free” law provides New York City freelancers with the right to a written contract for work paying a total of $800 or more over a 120-day period. The contract has to spell out the work to be done, the pay and completion date. If the company doesn’t pay, they can be fined.

The founder of The Freelance Collective Nina Hendy agrees, saying Australian freelancers deserve better when it comes to payment terms.

“Without a doubt, getting paid on time is one of the most difficult parts of working freelance. We’re often a one-man-band up against a multinational, and they hold all the cards when it comes to when we get paid,” Ms Hendy said.

“We hear lots of stories of freelancers having their payment terms clearly stated on their invoice, but being completely ignored by companies who instead enforce their own extended terms.”

If you are a freelancer contracted to supply goods or services and you believe that you are subject to unreasonable payment times or practices, or if you are having difficulty securing payment from your customer within agreed payment times, contact the ASBFEO.

Call 1300 650 460 or submit an online enquiry online through