Oregon Approves Construction Wage Protection Measures
As reported by Construction Dive, an important development in the construction industry occurred in Oregon with the House of Representatives passing legislation that says general contractors must pay past due wages and benefits owed to their subcontractors’ employees under certain circumstances. The legislation now moves on to the Oregon Senate to await voting.
The law more specifically states that if the contractor has not yet paid the subcontractor in full, and a claim is filed with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries and is determined valid, the contractor has to pay the delinquent pay or benefits.
For more background, between 2015 and 2017 Oregon received 500 wage claims. In the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the Bureau had to collect more than $600,000 from employers on behalf of unpaid workers.
Oregon isn’t the only state that’s worked to pass legislation like this though. Effective January 1st, California instated a bill that requires general contractors to pay valid wage claims whether or not they’ve paid the subcontractor in full. However, the law also allows general contractors to withhold payment from subcontractors until they provide proof that they’ve paid their employees.
The industry has also seen a crackdown in areas like New York, where the Manhattan District Attorney’s office revealed this past December that prosecutors had charged over 400 companies with “wage theft” adding up to almost $3 million. The District Attorney noted the method in which the companies perpetrated the theft was through:
- Bouncing checks to their workers
- Paying hourly rates lower than the prevailing wage
- Not paying overtime
- Withholding pay
As reported by local news affiliate, KTVZ, Rep. Julie Fahey stated, “When workers aren’t paid what they have earned, it hurts workers and their families. It also hurts our local economies and reduces tax revenue.”
Ultimately, the state hopes this will encourage contractors to work with more responsible sub-contractors as well.
Keep an eye out for similar pending legislation in your state to see if it follows suit!