What We’re Watching: House Bill 1008

It’s a busy week ahead for legislation impacting businesses at the state capitol, with many bills getting their first committee hearings. One major bill that the Colorado Chamber is watching this week is HB 1008 regarding wage claims for construction contractors. While the bill specifically targets the construction industry, the sponsors have indicated that it will serve as a model in the coming years for broad industry expansion well beyond just construction.

The intent of HB 1008 is something that the Chamber broadly supports – reducing wage theft and ensuring that workers are compensated for their labor. But unfortunately, as written, the legislation is far more complex and problematic. Specifically, the proposal puts general contractors on the hook for the actions of independent subcontractors before requiring any meaningful attempt at collecting against the subcontractor accused of violating wage theft laws.

In bypassing the subcontractor completely, HB 1008 actually incentivizes wage theft by rewarding bad behavior. This actually could accelerate wage theft rather than reduce it, harming the very workers the bill intends to help.

In addition, this bill targets an industry that is already facing a shortage of workers needed to build much needed housing infrastructure. Further strains on the construction labor market will lead to increased housing costs at a time when Colorado already faces one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.

For a proposal that could impact other industries in future legislative sessions, it’s important to get it right and avoid the unintended consequences that come with HB 1008. The Colorado Chamber’s Labor and Employment Policy Council took an opposed position on the bill last week due to its far-reaching nature.

HB 1008 is set for a hearing in the House Business Affairs & Labor Committee next week. Read more about the proposal on The Sum & Substance.