From the category archives: Legal

Legal

Decision Opens the Door to Joint Employer Liability for Contractors

On Jan. 25, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a significant blow to the traditional contractor-subcontractor relationship. In finding that a contractor and subcontractor could be considered “joint employers” of the subcontractor’s workers for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the court’s decision has opened a Pandora’s Box of potential wage and hour issues, including claims for overtime pay against contractors and higher-tier subcontractors from the employees of lower-tier subcontractors.

Before Employees Leave, Protect Your Assets

A review of most construction companies’ financial records reveals their primary value is their owners and employees. Thus, firms have a compelling interest in attracting and retaining skilled and professional labor, as well as avoiding the devastating loss of talent and know-how when they leave or engage in competing businesses. Construction companies that cater to the demands unique to each type of employee will find an edge in the employment marketplace. For instance, to attract older employees, construction companies could consider offering a wide array of tax-advantaged savings and retirement incentives, including health savings accounts, college savings accounts, 401(k) accounts, simplified employee pensions, IRAs and qualified and non-qualified deferred compensation plans. 

The Power of the Congressional Review Act

  For more than a decade, it was common for elected officials on Capitol Hill to say, “the Congressional Review Act (CRA) has only ever been successful once.” However, under the Trump administration, the rarely used CRA has successfully overturned eight overreaching Obama-era regulations. Passed in 1996, the CRA allows new regulations to be overturned by Congress through a joint resolution of disapproval.

What Merit Shop Contractors Should Expect From the Trump Administration

While controversies over the first nominee for Secretary of Labor slowed implementation of the Trump administration’s labor agenda during the first 100 days of the president’s term, construction industry leaders are already seeing a sharp contrast with the anti-business agenda of the Obama administration, as federal labor agencies have begun to review and in some cases retract burdensome regulations imposed by previous officials. 

ICE Is Coming for Undocumented Workers: How to Prevent Corporate Frostbite

  Undocumented workers and the businesses that knowingly or unknowingly employ them are coming under the microscope. Just looking at recent headlines, the president has implemented two immigration bans, is challenging so-called “Sanctuary Cities” that do not help federal immigration enforcement, has instructed government agencies to become more aggressive in enforcing immigration laws and is already reviewing proposals to strengthen the border wall. Plus, the E-Verify program for verifying worker status is likely to become mandatory.

Resolving Disputes and Negotiating Contracts Without Breaking the Bank

  Legal services are notoriously expensive, yet they are necessary to protect companies and their owners, assert legal rights, recover payment for construction services and defend against meritless claims. Attorneys are especially useful in developing and negotiating contracts and significant change orders, setting up corporate structures to minimize and maintain risk, resolving disputes through compromise or litigating them to judgment. From a construction executive’s viewpoint, legal services are like any other service: They must be managed with the goal of obtaining the most value for the lowest cost.

Congress, States Consider Legislation to Prevent PLA Mandates

On March 14, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) introduced the Fair and Open Competition Act (S. 622) to prevent federal agencies and recipients of federal funding from requiring contractors to sign controversial project labor agreements (PLAs) as a condition of winning federal or federally assisted construction contracts. Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) introduced a companion bill (H.R. 1552) in the U.S. House of Representatives that was reported favorably out of committee March 28.

Three Ways for Contractors to Mitigate Risk and Lower Insurance Premiums

Many business executives believe insurance brokers have control over the quotes they provide, but that’s not the case. Insurance carriers control the price, and they provide the best rates to companies that proactively manage their risk. The less risky a contractor appears, the fewer claims it’s likely to have and the “safer” the company looks. Therefore, the lower the premium they are likely to get.

Here are three ways general contractors can mitigate risk and make their companies more desirable to insurance carriers.

Dissecting the House Tax Blueprint

In June 2016, as part of Speaker Paul Ryan’s “Better Way” initiative, the House Ways and Means Committee rolled out its “Blueprint” for tax reform. This broad overview outlined Republicans’ talking points for the campaign trail and the anticipated showdown with the Clinton White House, if not a Democratic Senate majority. 

After a false start with the ill-fated Camp Draft, expectations were tempered for legislative action. The topline items read as a veritable wish list of pro-growth provisions that were hailed by tax coalitions and trade groups alike. The tradeoffs were largely ignored, with any prospective pushback muted by dismal electoral expectations. After an initial burst of coverage, the Blueprint receded as Congress left town, leaving all eyes trained on an increasingly surreal presidential race. 

Risk Management in a 24-Hour Society

  Builders and developers can’t escape scrutiny when confronted with government investigations, workplace accidents, dissatisfied customers and employee complaints.

Reputation in the construction field is a crucial business quality. It’s paramount to ensure a sufficient risk management strategy is in place, and enhanced media exposure means non-traditional risk management actions are needed to prepare for and respond to challenges.
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