The Colorado House and Senate passed a “Wage Claims Construction Industry Contractors” bill that will combat wage theft in the construction industry, specifically improving accountability on general contractors to cover lost wages if subcontractors don’t pay their workers as required by law — or simply never give them their earned wages. This measure was sent to Gov. Jared Polis’ office on May 14. 

“Wage theft is wrong, and it impacts people all across the state. Coloradans should know we’re working hard to combat this problem,” said Sen. Jessie Danielson (D-CO), a sponsor of the bill. “With this bill, we will strengthen protections for workers and ensure they are paid their fair share.” 

Wage theft occurs when employees are not paid minimum wage or when employers misidentify employees as contractors or avoid payment to their workers. 

“Colorado’s dedicated workers lose nearly $728 million in stolen wages annually,” said Sen. Chris Kolker (D-Centennial), a sponsor of the bill. “Theft is theft, and it keeps hardworking families from being able to make ends meet. Our legislation targets the increased use of subcontracts and other labor market intermediaries to ensure all workers are paid for the work they do and no one falls through the cracks.” 

According to a report conducted in 2022 by the Colorado Fiscal Institute, there is around $728 million in wage theft that occurs annually. Many of those who experience wage theft are low-paid employees. 

People of color and women are more likely to experience wage theft than white people. Wage theft occurs not only in the construction industry but also in the food, entertainment, healthcare, educational, waste management, technical and other industries. 

According to an article from the Denver Gazette, business organizations and contractors are asking Gov. Jared Polis to veto this bill. They claim that it “targets a specific industry from which just 8.9% of total wage-and-hour claims submitted to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment arose in 2023.” 

The fate of the bill is now in the hands of Polis, who must sign it before it becomes law.