Getting Man the Job Notices? How to Protect Yourself.

Most sub-contracts have a provision called something like “man the Job” provisions.   This is a provision that protects the contractor if a sub-contractor is having unusual delays or even not showing up on the job.  It normally protects the contractor by giving proof of their cause for a termination of a subcontract and possible contractual damages related to such termination and eventual hiring of a substitute sub-contractor to complete the job.

In most cases these are probably used correctly due to a sub-contractor having maybe taken on too much work and not being able to make timely progress.  However, there are times when unscrupulous contractors can use these “man the job notices” to wrongfully try to remove a sub-contractor.  Why would they do that?  Well, sometimes it is to avoid making payments due to a sub-contractor.  Sometimes, they have found someone else to do the back end of the job cheaper.  Other times, we have seen them send these sub-contractors appalling bills alleging that not only does the Contractor not owe the Sub any money, but the Sub owes them money (and a lot of it) for finishing the job.  The reasons for the latter type of letter could be multiple.  However, it is shocking how many sub-contractors we have seen in this position that do not fight these “man the job” notices and when they get the bill that they owe the contractor money, many just lie over.  So, it seems to me that if this happens frequently and the contractors are able to get more money this way, it could be yet another construction scam that we start seeing more and more frequently.

So what should you do if you receive a man the job notice?  Of course, the first thing you should have been doing the whole time, is been keeping good records (including time records showing who was on the job and how long they were on the job) to protect yourself.  It would be a good idea if the other party does not get pictures of your guys sleeping on the job (not my client, but it did happen in a case of mine believe it or not).  But if you haven’t been the best record keeper, hopefully when you got your first notice or inkling that things were starting to go bad, you started being more diligent and protecting yourself.

Second, do not ignore the notice.  You need to respond and include in detail your defense to their claim. If you have documents to support your defense, include those documents.  Take the time NOW to resolve the dispute before it gets more and more out of hand.   If there seems to be a legitimate dispute, try and work out a resolution and put your agreement in writing signed and agreed upon by all parties.

Lastly, if you get more “man the job” notices which are in dispute or are unable to come to an agreement on how to resolve a dispute, don’t just let the eventual happen.  Hire an attorney then to represent your interest and to attempt to resolve the dispute.  A lot of times, when the contractor knows you will hire an attorney that can do a lot in and of itself to help you resolve the dispute.  Also, the attorney can help you protect yourself the best way you can before the termination actually happens.  Being proactive is always the key.