Despite what the Queensland Government would have you believe, the answer is; you cannot. There will always be a minority of bad eggs within the industry who will try to avoid or delay payment.
However, if you take the following simple steps you can substantially reduce the risk of delayed or non-payments.
Often subcontractors come to see us after waiting up to 6+ months to get paid and only after exhausting every other available avenue. This is a mistake. If you wait this long to act, you could lose your rights. At the first sign of trouble, you need to seek legal advice.
Common signs of trouble to watch out for are:
Consistent late payments –
The Contractor consistently pays you well after the agreed payment terms or asks for an extension of time to pay.
Pay when paid –
The contractor says they cannot pay you until they get paid by their client (which is unlawful);
The promise of more work –
The Contractor promises you more work if you agree to deferred payment terms
Failing to return calls –
The Contractor refuses to return calls or emails seeking payment.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Contracts will often have detailed mechanisms for how and when you should be claiming progress payments, variations and/or extensions of time.
It is important that you are aware of any time periods that apply. Often contracts will contain a time bar clause preventing you from making a claim unless you do so within a certain time frame which could be as little as two (2) business days from the date you become aware of the circumstances giving rise to the claim.
It is no good having a written contract if it sits in a drawer.
PREVENTION IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN THE CURE
Finally, the best way to avoid payment disputes is to have a written contract containing fair and reasonable mechanisms for claiming payment.
Contracts are always negotiable. If you do not believe something you are being asked for is fair, negotiate an alternative.
If you require assistance to make the expert move, contact us for help.