AOL Stretches Freelance Pay Period to 90 Days

Typing on a keyboardVerizon completed its $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL last June, and apparently has been looking for ways to cut costs. As a result, AOL told its vendors and suppliers — including editorial freelancers contributing to its Huffington Post publication — that payment periods are going to be stretched to 90 days.

“We are honoring all current contracts,” said an AOL spokeswoman. This means that all editorial freelancers who are currently under contract shouldn’t have anything to worry about, but the future looks bleak.

According to the New York Post, “Any [AOL] contract renewal or new contracts will be moved to 90 days.” So essentially, when the time comes to renew all current freelancing contracts, writers are in for an unpleasant update.

Although about one-fourth of customers feel that innovations like electronic billing made their situations easier, there’s no electronic solution for AOL’s 90-day proposal.

Meanwhile, freelance writers in the United Kingdom are facing similar problems.

Staffing Industry Analysts reports news of 36% of freelancers having to borrow from a payday loan firm to cover a shortage, and up to 46% stress about having enough money to survive, according to research from London-based Finance start-up Ormsby Street.

Additional research shows that 79% of freelance writers report cash flow being their biggest concern.

“Every freelancer knows that late invoice payment is one of the biggest frustrations, impacting cash-flow and causing much stress, from paying the mortgage to having enough money to live on,” Martin Campbell, Managing Director at Ormsby Street, said.

While companies in the UK may not have an excuse, AOL is blaming the changes in pay periods on their new parent company, Verizon.

An AOL spokesperson reported that this policy is one of Verizon’s, and that AOL would align with it due to the recent purchase of the company.

“That’s a very long wait to be paid,” said one freelancer in an interview with Yahoo News. “It’s not like they are a small company with cash-flow problems. It strikes me as they are just being mean.”

For those considering a career in freelancing, this news is anything but encouraging. If AOL does align with this policy, they may be angering, and even losing, many of their freelance contributors.

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