As with any business, every worker has their specific rights and obligations – this is the case within the construction industry whether you work for a big company or are self-employed – here are the different ways in which they are governed.
Contracts are an essential part of any construction project. They are key for outlining both payment terms and standards of work that must be adhered to. Not only this, but they also detail how any potential disputes should be resolved.
As contracts cover such a breadth of important information, it is vital that they are written and not just verbal. Therefore, should there be any contractual issues or disputes, the proper procedures to follow have been recorded.
A contract helps to protect a construction worker as it acts as a formal record of who is responsible for various aspects of the project, such as design and material costs, and damages payable if project delays should occur. It will also detail the types of insurance different stakeholders will hold, such as builder’s insurance, meaning no project is entered into without adequate protection, should it be required.
It is advised that contracts are written with the help of a legal professional.
As well as contractual obligations, civil law also covers work carried out by construction workers. The main areas are as follows:
Quality of work – Any work that takes place is expected to be of a certain standard, this includes the work itself, the materials used, and the technology utilised. This is mainly governed by two pieces of legislation: The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 and The Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2022. These retrospectively outline the quality that is expected from any contractor and the action that should be taken if unsatisfactory work is carried out.
Guaranteeing work – This means there is an obligation to fix any work that has been completed incorrectly or not to standard. There is typically within a 12-24 month timeframe but can span for much longer in certain cases.
Price terminology – While an estimate is based on current information and cannot be entirely accurate, a quote or price is a fixed cost that must be honoured. Distinguishing the difference between these two and using them correctly is essential.
Cancelling of work – Consumers have a legal right to cancel work being undertaken in a home or workplace within seven days of agreeing to the contract. This varies depending on how the contract was agreed.
Subcontractors – Any subcontractors used during a project are the responsibility of the builder and not the customer. This means any mistakes they make need to be managed by the builder.
As construction is realistically a dangerous sector, construction workers have a network of protections for their safety and security. Employers must uphold them per regulations.
To that end, most jurisdictions uphold the following rights:
Right to refuse unsafe work – Construction workers have the right to refuse to work if they believe that the work is hazardous. They cannot be fired for refusing to work in life-threatening conditions.
Right to a safe workplace – Employers are required to provide a safe workplace for their employees. This includes providing adequate safety equipment, training employees on how to use the equipment, and inspecting the workplace for hazards.
Right to be informed of hazards – Employers are required to brief workers on any known dangers in the workplace. That includes risks specific to the worksite, such as falls from heights, electrical hazards, and working with hazardous materials.
Right to be trained on safety – Employers are required to train employees on how to perform their jobs safely. This training should be specific to the hazards that employees are likely to encounter in the workplace.
Right to compensation – In the event of an injury that puts a crew member out of commission, said member may claim compensation and benefits if employer negligence is proven. They can turn to a construction accident lawyer to help them establish proof and get the settlement they deserve.
Various areas within criminal law impact a construction worker’s rights and obligations, including the following:
Communication – Protected by The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, clients are entitled to be communicated with openly during and after works. This includes information on the source of materials and the accreditations of the builder. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in a £5,000 fine per offence.
Callout charges – During any project, emergency callouts may be required. Builders have the right to charge for these, however, they also have an obligation to communicate this to the customer beforehand.