McConchie seeks more clarity on wage-theft bill
During a recent hearing before the Senate Executive Subcommittee on Special Issues, Illinois state Sen. Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) asked for more clarification on a bill that intends to protect construction employees from wage theft.
McConchie said that House Bill 2838 was lacking information in some areas and could use more direct language. The bill provides that for all contracts entered into after July 1, a direct contractor is liable for any debt owed to workers or third-parties incurred by a subcontractor at any level. It is to be enforced by the Department of Labor.
"I think it is a little vague," McConchie said at the hearing. "It would appear someone who is a victim of wage theft could go after everyone multiple times. We need to make sure that’s clarified. If they’re owed something they can only get it once. I'm [also] concerned about a situation that happens frequently. That is in which a homeowner establishes themselves as a general contractor in order to not have to hire one — then they become personally liable for a subcontractor's doing . . . in a manner they never expected they would be."
State Sen. Laura Fine (D-Glenview) said that homeowners would be exempt if the work involved their primary properties.
"I'd appreciate more data in this circumstance," McConchie said. "We already have remedies that currently exist. How is this different and beneficial in a way instead of letting the Department of Labor and the attorney general coming in?"
Fine responded by saying some people are intimidated by going through the Department of Labor. McConchie also questioned if the bill would hinder smaller businesses from breaking into the market, to which Fine said good contractors would still be able to get those jobs.