The Dotted Line: What to know about New York’s new construction wage theft law

A New York state law that aims to combat wage theft in the construction industry went into effect on Jan. 4. New York Senate Bill 2766-C makes general contractors responsible for ensuring all workers on a project, including those employed by subcontractors, are correctly paid. It also imposes more stringent reporting requirements for subcontractors. Wage theft is a multi-billion dollar problem that spans industries across the United States; according to Brotman, it dwarfs property crime costs in the country. A 2017 wage theft study from the Economic Policy Institute found that 32.3% of New York construction workers’ earned wages were not paid — the highest share out of all the industries surveyed. According to Brotman, the misclassification of workers — whether intentional or not — is typically wage theft. Minimum wage violations, overtime pay violations and unpaid “off the clock” work or meal breaks are also common forms. Under the new law, prime contractors are ultimately responsible for any of these violations.

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