Global freelancing platform Upwork announced a sweeping policy change on Tuesday that will impact hundreds of thousands of freelancers -- particularly new and/or low-earning users.

“Connects,” the virtual tokens freelancers use to submit proposals for jobs, will no longer be free sometime between May or June 2019. Instead, Connects will cost $0.15 each -- and depending on the job they’re submitting for, freelancers will need between one and six tokens to apply. For the most in-demand jobs, that translates to a little less than $1 per submission.

That’s a significant departure from the old model, which provided 60 free Connects as part of the Freelancer Basic plan. In an economy where three in 10 adults take on freelance or “gig” work -- “generally as a supplemental source of income,” according to a Federal Reserve report -- it’s a tough blow, especially in states such as Georgia, where the minimum wage is just $5.15. Upwork says that on average, most freelancers will spend about $5 or less per month on Connects, but the company didn’t provide details on how it calculated that figure.

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