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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>Hi, we referred a couple of our employees to a General Contractor who needed labor on a project. Our employees supplied that labor to the GC on their own time, however the GC is now not paying them for their time, nor were they ever hired as employees by the GC or that company. What recourse do laborers have to get payment for labor they provide independently on a project? I want to help them get paid.

Hi, we referred a couple of our employees to a General Contractor who needed labor on a project. Our employees supplied that labor to the GC on their own time, however the GC is now not paying them for their time, nor were they ever hired as employees by the GC or that company. What recourse do laborers have to get payment for labor they provide independently on a project? I want to help them get paid.

CaliforniaMechanics LienPreliminary Notice

Hi there, a few of our employees (laborers) supplied labor on a job during their own free time, for a job that have been told the GC does not know when he will be paying them. I have recommended them to Zlien to secure their lien rights, as I don’t want them to lose out on any money they rightfully earned. Can laborers file a prelim like we as a company do? We used to be associated with that project, however we did not continue to work on it, as they never signed our contract. So we invoiced a time and material invoice and we prelimmed, so our money is safe, however, the GC asked our laborers if they would be willing to work on this job on their own time and they agreed, but now the GC is not paying them for their time. So I wanted to assist them with sending a prelim for their labor, even though its only a couple of hundred dollars, but that is huge for them. Are they able to send a prelim as sole and separate laborers? In a few articles, I see that “Laborers are not required to give notice. Keep in mind: According to California Civil Code § 8200, “A laborer is not required to give preliminary notice.” A claimant with a direct contractual relationship with the owner of the property is only required to give preliminary notice to the construction lender.” So if they don’t have a written contractual agreement (only verbal agreement), to provide labor, and they did actually provide it, what recourse do they have to get their payment? Thanks!!

1 reply

Jun 26, 2018
That's a good question, and certainly one of the most thorough descriptions we've gotten on the Construction Legal Center - so thank you! Anyway, in California, a written contract is not necessary for lien rights to arise. Oral contracts can give rise to a mechanics lien just as a written one would - but keep in mind, if it becomes necessary, proving that a contract existed (and existed for the applicable amount) might be a burden. Anyway, as hinted at above, laborers are entitled to mechanics lien rights in California under § 8400 of the California Civil Code. Further, unlike other parties to a project, laborers in California are not required to send preliminary notice, as set out by § 8200(e)(1) of the code. While a laborer may file a mechanics lien without prior written notice, it's still a good idea to send preliminary notice at the start of the job. Doing so opens up lines of communication and contributes to a more transparent project, which helps payments flow through the chain more smoothly. Plus, it shows higher-tiered parties that the noticing party is serious about getting paid and is aware of their rights. It's also worth noting that, if payment issues do arise, sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien might also be a good step before going ahead with a lien filing. The requirements for laborers and mechanics liens might be light, but more communication (and better communication) usually leads to fewer problems.
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