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Are contractors liable for unpaid subcontractor employee wages?

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2021 | Construction Law

If you are a contractor in the Central Islip community, you probably partner with subcontractors on many different projects. Such partnerships help the New York construction industry thrive while providing an income to many residents.

If subcontractors involved in your construction projects fail to pay their workers, you should not have to foot the bill. However, a new labor law could make you liable for wages that the subcontractor did not pay their employees.

Key takeaways from the statute

Most likely, you are accustomed to working with state subcontractors without concerns over additional legal or financial liability, but the new law can change that. Below are four key takeaways from the law that can impact your New York contractor or construction business:

  • Unpaid workers have the right to sue you and the subcontractor for their past-due earnings.
  • Unpaid workers cannot exclude contractors or waive their liability in any legal action they pursue to recover wages.
  • Unpaid workers have ten days to seek a cure before filing any lawsuit for unreceived earnings.
  • The new law will take effect on Jan. 4, 2022.

The end of the year is a good time for contractors to strengthen their legal protections to avoid liability. For example, throw away your current contracts and create new ones establishing who (subcontractor or contractor) is liable for any unpaid wages owed to project workers.

Do not underestimate the power of a well-written contract to protect you and your company’s best interests. If you want to increase your legal protections more, consider having your new construction contracts reviewed by a legal professional. In the meantime, we recommend learning more about the new statute and other construction-related labor laws.