The problem of non-payment in the construction market goes unreported, a new study by researchers at the Middlesex University has found.
Speaking to Construction News, the author of the Unpaid Britain report Nick Clarke said construction workers were unwilling to speak out regarding unpaid wages.
The report’s analysis of industrial tribunal and insolvency data showed the industry to be one of the worst offenders.
“Not many construction workers would talk to us about it,” he said.
“It clearly happens – I can track it in the industrial tribunal cases, I can find the insolvency cases – but people didn’t want to talk about it.”
Mr Clarke said he believed workers in the sector found it harder to speak out over non-payment because their relationships with non-paying employers were often as subcontractors.
He added that he thought a “macho culture” prevented people coming forward.
“It’s under-reported – partly that’s cultural, partly it’s people making a rational judgement of, ‘Am I going to get paid?’,” he said.
“In a lot of cases these are enterprises or companies with no assets, so they think if I take [a non-paying contractor] to court, quite a lot of them reasonably assess, ‘No, I’m not going to get paid’.
“My supposition is that the workers think they are somehow to blame when they haven’t been paid.
“The strain is perhaps a lot worse for a married construction worker than it is for a single worker in the services sector.
“I think it might be a bit of a macho thing – they’re embarrassed and think they’ve been taken for a ride.”