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February 9, 2024

Wage Theft Prevention Passes House Committee

DENVER, CO - The House Business Affairs & Labor Committee today passed legislation to combat wage theft and boost the economic security of workers in the construction industry, ensuring construction workers receive pay for their work.

“Wage theft is a serious problem in Colorado, with over $720 million in wages withheld from hardworking Coloradans every single year,” said Majority Leader Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge. “The construction industry, which includes many Latino and immigrant workers, has disproportionately high rates of wage theft that leave workers questioning how they’re going to pay their bills. This legislation is crucial in ensuring that Coloradans get paid for the work that they do and holding contractors who do not honor commitments to pay their employees accountable.”

“We rely on construction workers to build infrastructure that allows our communities to grow, like needed housing supply and transportation projects, and they deserve to get paid for their hard work,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood. “No one should have to fight for money they are owed. This bill honors the hard work that goes into constructing our housing and transportation projects by ensuring construction workers are paid for their labor.”

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.

The bill passed in committee by a vote of 8-3.

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