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April 18, 2024

Wage Theft Prevention Bill Advances in House

DENVER, CO - The House today advanced legislation on a preliminary vote to combat wage theft and boost the economic security of workers in the construction industry, ensuring construction workers receive pay for their work.

“From not paying for overtime work to shortchanging paychecks, wage theft is a very serious issue that threatens the economic security and well-being of Coloradans,” said Majority Leader Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge. “Women and workers of color are disproportionately more likely to be victims of wage theft, forcing them to choose between paying their rent and putting food on the table for their families. By strengthening Colorado’s wage theft laws, Coloradans can feel more confident that they will be paid for the work that they do.”

“Wage theft is theft, and it prevents hardworking Coloradans from affording their rent, groceries, medication, and other essential costs,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood. “Construction workers are especially vulnerable to wage theft because they are often hired under subcontractors who can more easily abuse their power to avoid paying their workers. Our legislation would require lost wages to be paid to workers so they are guaranteed to receive the money they worked for.”

HB24-1008 improves wage theft accountability by requiring general contractors to cover lost wages if a subcontractor commits wage theft and increases transparency to improve compliance. It also imposes a $2,000 fine on a subcontractor if they do not forward a written demand for payment to the general contractor.

Reps. Duran and Froelich also sponsored legislation in 2022 that ensures Colorado workers are able to recover legally-earned wages. The law modernizes Colorado’s wage enforcement procedures by streamlining the enforcement of wage theft laws and expanding the Department of Labor and Employment’s ability to investigate wage violators.

A 2022 report by the Colorado Fiscal Institute found that nearly 440,000 low-wage Colorado workers experience $728 million in wage theft annually. Workers of color and women are most likely to be victims of wage theft, and the most common industries for wage theft are retail, construction, and food service. Construction workers are particularly at risk for wage theft due to the high rates of subcontracting and other labor market intermediaries.

Wage theft can include not paying workers minimum wage, non-payment of wages, misclassifying workers as independent contractors or as management to avoid paying overtime and taking tips that were meant for the employees.

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