Illinois legislation could force GC to cover wages for subcontractors’ workers

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Illinois legislation, if passed, could put general contractors on the hook for the wages of their subcontractors’ unpaid employees.

State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz’ legislation, Bill 2838, could result in a contractor who hires others to do work being forced by the Illinois Department of Labor to be responsible for unpaid wages to workers that the subcontractor had failed to pay.

The legislation passed out of committee on March 20 and is currently on third reading.

“House Bill 2838 provides for primary contractor responsibility for wage and benefit theft in the construction industry to stop worker exploitation and bring tax dollars back to the state currently being lost by lawbreakers,” she said.

Organizations representing contractors have expressed opposition to the bill. These include the Illinois Construction Industry Committee, the Illinois Road and Transportation Builder’s Association and the Illinois Mechanical and Speciality Contractors Association.

Rep. Tom Weber, a contractor himself, said the change would put builders on the hook for other businesses’ actions, the Illinois News Network reports.

“As a contractor who hired someone and paid them to do a job and then when they don’t pay their employees, how on Earth is that my responsibility?” he asked.

Kevin O’Gorman with the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters told Weber that the new law would make him more careful about who he does business with.

“It would be a good thing for your portion of the industry to make sure that the people are getting paid,” he was quoted as saying. “We’re trying to get you to be reasonable and hire qualified and responsible contractors.”

General contractors in California, which has a similar law, have been sued by the state and forced to pay sizeable settlements on behalf of contractors they pay to do jobs.

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