Week of 2.15.08
What is a Freelancer?
More From NOW: Benefits Denied | Freelancers Up Close | What is a Freelancer? | Enterprising Ideas | Feedback Forum | TranscriptA freelancer is part of America's independent workforce. According to the Freelancers Union, this includes "the segment of the labor force working outside of standard employment arrangements as independent contractors, temporary workers, contract workers, leased workers, part-time workers, on-call workers, day laborers, and the self-employed."
Legally, there is no coherent definition that exists to distinguish whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. This is a problem that can lead to what's known as "worker misclassification" - when employers treat workers like independent contractors rather than full-time employees, thus allowing the company to avoid paying benefits or state and federal taxes. Worker misclassification can lead to workers being denied benefits they deserve.
"Permalancers" are essentially permanent freelancers —people who work full-time, with duties and hours very similar to regular employees. But because they are hired on a contract basis they do not have the perks and benefits of a full-time employee.
Freelance Facts & Figures
The Rockefeller Foundation: American Workers
Fiscal Policy Institute: The State of Working New York
Cornell University Study: The Cost of Worker Misclassification in New York State
United States Government Accountability Office: Employee Misclassification
Freelancers Union: The Rise of the Freelance Class; A New Constituency of Workers;
Building a Social Safety Net
Freelancers Union: Defining the Independent Workforce
New York City Comptroller: Economic Notes
The Washington Times: Independent Workers in '08
The Nation: Permalancers, Unite!
TomPaine.com: The Shape of Unions to Come
The New York Times: Labor Union, Redefined, for Freelance Workers
StatesmanJournal.com: Union aids independent workers
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Marketplace: All the work, none of the benefits
Crain's New York