Freelance writing is a lucrative gig for many reporters, photographers, models, editors and more in the fashion industry — both for independent websites like ours and for big-name publishing houses like Condé Nast, Time Inc. and Hearst. Though freelancing comes with its fair share of freedoms, it also has very tricky setbacks, particularly in regards to getting paid for your work in a timely fashion.
Condé Nast has clearly heard freelancers' complaints, as a new vendor contract (that Fashionista has obtained) from the publisher highlights this issue. But there's a catch, and a really shitty one: If you want to get paid more quickly, the company is going to charge you for it. "At the top of our project list is an accelerated payment option, which will allow you to get paid more quickly when a small discount taken off the invoice is accepted," the statement reads. "There will be more news coming out on this enhancement over the next few months."
A rep for Condé Nast later provided Fashionista with the following comment:
We have and will continue to pay freelancers within 30 days but wanted to offer them some flexibility and have added this industry-standard option.
To protect freelancers from getting screwed over, New York State passed a law in Oct. 2016 that requires employers to pay independent workers in full by an agreed upon date (set in writing), and failure to do so can lead to hefty fees and/or the risk of being slapped with a lawsuit. While compliance with these guidelines seems like it should be a no-brainer, contractors are still frequently put in a position that requires them to chase missed payments for completed work — something that not only takes up precious working time, but that can also be detrimental when it comes to paying bills on time.
So, if you want to get your money for work you've already done with the company before rent is due, no problem! Just cut a little off the top to help Condé Nast expedite the process for you. It's a small price to pay for no longer having to beg for the checks you've already earned, right? Gross.
UPDATE, Tues. Apr. 4: Condé Nast has issued a statement to Fashionista that the changes outlined in the memo do not apply to freelance writers, photographers or creatives; the "nominal" discount option is offered to larger corporate vendors who continually work with the publisher. An updated email will be circulated to clarify the new policy on Tuesday.
This article was updated to include an additional comment from Condé Nast.