The labor shortage continues to hinder roofing contractors, resulting in delayed jobs or lost opportunities. It may result in contractors seeking just about anyone who is willing to work, but they should be cautious about who they’re hiring.

In this latest Legal Insights, Trent Cotney, partner at Adams and Reese, Cotney says he suspects about 89% of the residential market is using sub-labor, while 50 to 60% of commercial are using it. It’s a sign of the times showing just how hard it is to find skilled labor to complete roofing jobs.

“There isn’t anyone to do the work, so people are turning to sub-labor and subcontractors to do the work, and it’s just shocking to me how rapidly it has increased over the past few years,” he said.

The roofing industry has taken steps to expand its workforce, from encouraging more women to join the industry to immigration reform and working with high school programs. Some states like Iowa and Arkansas look to roll back child labor laws, namely for teens age 16 and up. Cotney discusses the possible ramifications of these laws in the video.

“Especially after COVID, I think we saw a lot of the workforce leave, and I think we’re still having trouble recuperating from that, so I anticipate that you’re going to see more of these laws go into effect,” he said.

Contractors also need to be wary of hiring sub-labor, as it’s not always clear just how skilled, let alone licensed, they are when it comes to roofing work. Cotney provides some takeaways on how contractors can protect themselves in these situations.

“It’s a delicate subject, and it’s fraught with legal peril,” he said. “Until technology or something else eliminates the need for that level of labor, it’s something that we’re just having to deal with.”

Watch the full discussion here, or visit our podcast page to download the episode and listen on the go.

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