To Moonlight on Side Jobs Can Be a Felony in Some States

I was really disturbed by an article [“When Your Tech Is off the Clock”] written by John R. Hall in the April 9 edition, about side jobs. The article seemed to glorify the practice as if there is nothing wrong with it. I wanted to comment about it, and maybe he can follow up with the “other side of the story.”

Small business owners spend billions of dollars every year to run their shops. The education, permitting, licensing, insurance, etc. costs a lot of money and is required in almost every municipality in the country. To hire and maintain a work force is even more expensive with workmen’s comp, benefits, insurance, labor and payroll costs, etc.

Now this person attracts the inquiry of “can you do that on the side cheaper” because the real daytime job advertises for him that he is in that trade. If he says yes, not only is he wrong but, in a lot of cases, he becomes a criminal. In Florida, he becomes a felon. That’s right, it’s a crime to perform certain trades without a license.

This person is also stealing from their employer, and if the employer is stupid enough to think it’s limited to the “people other than my customers,” they should grow up.

If your employee is working on the side in a license-required trade, they are actually doing work that the legitimate boss is liable for.

The supply house that sell the parts are also complicit and not innocent bystanders. Side work hurts the industries, the legitimate business owners, the honest employee who doesn’t do it, the homeowner who hires them, the supplier that sells to them, they all sell their integrity for a few dollars.

In my company, when you apply for a position, I explain, verbally and in writing, that side work is a crime and you will get arrested. I never forgive side work. I do let my people help their friends and family, but always on the books and with a permit.

Remember this, all of you guys, I am watching too, and if you advertise in Florida I will turn you in. The sheriff in this crime should be every legitimate contractor out there. If you want the industry clean, don’t just let it go, turn them in.

Fred H. Kobie
President and CEO
Kobie Kooling Inc.
Fort Myers, Fla.

Contractors and Inspectors Working Together

I applaud John R. Hall’s column on contractor-inspector relationships [“Contractor-Inspector Relationships,” April 16.] I currently am the HVAC inspector for two towns. In both of those towns, all of our inspectors are, or have been, in their respective trades for many years. We, therefore, have both the knowledge of the written code and the reality of the real world of construction, which often are conflicting.

The “gray area” mentioned in the column is very real. However, I approach each conflict on an individual basis. Even though there is a gray area, there is always a basic principle that will fit each. One is, “Will it work and is it safe?”

Most of the HVAC contractors have my cell phone number and I encourage them to call if they have an unusual problem. I would rather have them call and ask before, than get there and have an issue that could have been resolved before installation. We also would like to have meetings with the contractors, but as the column pointed out, only a few will show up.

Patrick L. McConnell
Manager of Facility Systems Operations
Olivet Nazarene University
Bourbonnais, Ill.

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Publication date:04/30/2007