Independent Contractors: Part of an Unpaid Wages Epidemic

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A large majority of Graphic and Web Designers are Independent Contractors and have experienced late invoices. Many have had the unpleasant experience of an unpaid and completely neglected invoice. examines the epidemic of unpaid wages.

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Last year, almost half of independent workers had trouble getting paid for their work. Three out of four freelancers are paid late or not at all at least once in their careers.

There were over 10 million independent contractors in the U.S. workforce in 2010. That means one in every 30 Americans was employed in that capacity, but not all of them were paid on time, or at all. Visitors to include plenty of independent designers and developers, so an article examining the unpaid wages epidemic was featured this week.

Matt Cannon, a freelance graphic designer and creative director, penned the piece and analyzed what he called an "unpaid wages epidemic." All freelancers are at risk of being stiffed, but according to Cannon, the instances of non-payment are sky high: "Last year, almost half of independent workers had trouble getting paid for their work. Three out of four freelancers are paid late or not at all at least once in their careers."

This year, the Freelancers' Union unveiled the World's Largest Invoice, whose amount due shot up to $16 million in the first week. Cannon revealed where a noticeable chunk came from: "Within the first six hours, there were already 114 entries for Web Development. It’s also been noted that Web-related service generated some of the highest rates named on the invoice."

What can freelancers do to ensure they reap the rewards of their hard work in a timely manner? Politely follow up on invoices? Seek out the Mob? Cannon presented several tips, including requiring a partial payment up front, properly vetting clients, sending all invoices promptly, charging late fees where appropriate, keeping accurate records, and "Always sending follow up emails to confirm matters. Consider this a verbal signature."

Unpaid workers can also take the fight into the legal system through a group like the Freelancers' Union. Small claims court, mediation, and arbitration can all be invoked should a client lag behind on payments. Cannon also shed light on legislation in New York that can help freelancers collect on debts: "This is a New York-based movement, but if the bill passes, it could help gain a lot of attention for unpaid freelancers everywhere." routinely engages its readers by posing several questions in feature articles. This week, Cannon's "Epidemic" piece has three poll questions:

Have you ever been the victim of an unpaid invoice for completed freelance work?
Do you use a contract before engaging in work with new clients?
Do you feel like the initiatives that The Freelancers Union are presenting are efficiently helping the Freelancer's unpaid wages epidemic?

The results of the interactive poll will be posted next week on Readers will be able to see how much their peers are impacted by delinquent clients.

Visit to learn more about the non-payment pandemic. The article and poll can be read HERE.

ABOUT GRAPHICDESIGN.COM is a product of Terran Marketing and a leading source of news and information devoted entirely to the graphic design industry. Employers, students, and freelancers come to to read and discuss current news, information, and events in the graphic design industry.


Julia Wild
Terran Marketing
892 East Steger Town Road, Suite #206
Rockwall, TX 75032
Phone: (540) 908-2195
E-Mail: julia(at)graphicdesign(dot)com

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