A couple of questions regarding sub-contracting. We do hire subcontractors to help with installation work. Among other things we have them sign your contract “Standard Subcontractor Agreement”.  

  • My first question; if we are asked to perform subcontract work is it appropriate to sign the same or similar contract? 
  • Second question; if we document a subcontractor, submit fingerprints etc., is there any rule as to how often this needs to be done or is once enough?

Jim Q
    We actually send the Subcontractor Agreement in two forms unless we are sure how our client intends to use the form.  If you know you're the subcontractor we give you a few more rights than if we know you are the one hiring the subcontractor.  If you're both hiring subs and also acting as sub you should have both forms and use the appropriate one when signing.
    You're in New York so your question regarding "documenting" subcontractors is unique to New York, though this response may apply to other states that have registration or certification requirements for employees.  It's not often that you can "reason out" why a statute or rule requires certain procedure, just normally just need to know what it is and follow it, no matter how inappropriate it may in your situation, but the reason for "documenting" employees helps understand the why and how.  The reason for documenting employees in New York is not to determine their competence, which is the reason in many states, but to determine if they have a criminal record that precludes them from engaging in the alarm business as an employee who does sales, installation or service.  Once that employee is "documented" by you the New York Department of State, Division of Licensing Services, knows that employee is under your employ and if that employee later gets convicted of a crime warranting disqualification of employment the DLS will notify the License Holder that the employee must be discharged.  
    If your subcontractor or its employees are not "documented" then you can document them under your license.  As long as they are not "documented" under another License Holder you will be notified of their disqualification.  Therefore, you only document them once.  
    If the subcontractor works for other licensed [or unlicensed] alarm companies then the subcontractor should be licensed and its employees documented under the subcontactor's license.  You should insist on seeing the subcontractor's license [though you can check on line] and also the unique ID card for each documented employee and proof the employees are documented.  The license holder is required to maintain Employee Files; ask to see them.
    As you may know we service many state funded customers.  Although we provide very flexible payment terms to these not for profit customers.  From time to time some customers are very late payers.  After speaking with them and giving them an opportunity to make payment prior to being placed on “service hold” we sometimes are forced to do just that when they are 60 days or greater past due.
    My question to you is, should we be withholding inspections or just emergency service for these types of customers?
Margaret E
    A proper response requires a few assumptions, and I'll show you why.  I know you specialize in commercial fire alarms.  I also know you use the Commercial Fire All in One, when you can.  No doubt there are times when you aren't able to get that form signed and you're constrained to accept a job using the subscriber's contract, bid package, purchase order, etc.  How you handle a delinquent subscriber can depend on the terms of your engagement, your contract.  
    For example, you mention that your subscriber is "state funded non profit".  But what if your subscriber is in fact a state agency and you've signed an agreement provided by the agency counsel, take it or leave it.  That agreement may very well require you to continue providing services even if you're not paid.  Disputed amounts may be handled in one way, simply delinquent accounts another.
    The Commercial Fire All in One allows you to suspend services, all services.  If you do suspend services you should notify the AHJ, in advance, letting the AHJ know precisely when services will stop.  Notify your subscriber the same time.  If you decide to provide any or some services you should be clear about that so there is no misunderstanding of what you are and aren't doing.  
    Suspending services is one way to handle delinquent accounts.  However, if your subscriber is not in danger of going out of business I suggest continuing to provide the service even after you've commenced collection proceedings.  Your case will be much stronger if the subscriber is continuing to use the service and the cost of continued monitoring isn't that significant, especially if you're able to use the arbitration services we've provided for in the Commercial All in One forms.