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Freelances urged to contact MPs about Late Payment Directive

18 August 2011

The NUJ is urging freelance members to write to their MPs to express their concerns about proposed changes to Late Payment Fees. 'Directive 2011/7/EU on combating late payment in commercial transaction' has serious implications for small businesses, according to the union.

Although the Directive continues the current default position of 30 days, this can be extended by contract to 60 days. There will even be circumstances in which the parties can agree to payment periods of longer than 60 days provided "this is not grossly unfair to the creditor".

Within the media industry there is the fairly common practice of payment upon publication. This is not an issue if publication is prompt. Unfortunately, some publishers hold on to freelance work for many months before publishing, to the severe detriment of the freelance. This is not something agreed by the parties: usually it is a case of corporate bullying.

The NUJ has drafted a letter for members to use and it states:

"[Payment upon publication] already causes severe problems and we would like to see the practice outlawed.
"Late payment is crucial issue of concern for the economy. A recent study has shown that 73 per cent of businesses have been paid late in the last 12 months. It is difficult to believe that the leeway allowed by the new Directive will make much impact upon this state of affairs."

The letter contains three proposals that the NUJ would like to see adopted:

That any company seeking an extension to 60 days should be required to demonstrate the necessity for such an agreement. Necessity should not just mean 'convenience'.

That only one such extension should be permitted between any two parties in one calendar year.

That compensation payments for bills up to £1000 should be £70.

You can find contact details for your MP on

Tags: , freelance, late payment, terms and conditions, eu