Michael Stone’s latest column in Markup and Profit focuses on the relationship between general contractors and subs, particularly when the sub doesn’t speak English or is foreign-born.

Stone says that general contractors must have a subcontractor agreement which defines how you intend to conduct business with you subs and what you, as an employer, expect from them. This way, Stone says, there is no gray area and everything is spelled out about your company’s protocol with expectations clear. It is therefore your responsibility to make sure that you tell a subcontractor exactly what work needs to be done and to give them a written agreement of what you want done.

For subcontractors, getting the job done while maintaining a clean work space and following the job outline, are all key steps to ensuring you hold up your end of the agreement.

Stone emphasizes the need to pay and treat workers fairly, regardless of language, skin color, or origin:

If someone from another country is capable of doing the same job as a native-born U.S. citizen and you hire them, you need to pay them the same wage. You also need to pay them in the same time frame, i.e., don't make them wait weeks for a paycheck. It doesn't matter where they're from, the color of their skin, or what their first language is. They have families to take care of just like anyone else. They need food, shelter, and clothing just like anyone else.

How can anyone possibly justify asking someone to work and then not paying them the full amount or on time? If you make an agreement with someone, keep it. It's common decency.

What other advice do you have for working with contractors and subcontractors? Let us know below.

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