A sub-contractor is anyone you get to do work for you who is not an employee

Sub-contractors will still have a contract and duties and obligations under that contract.

However, it will be a contract for services and not a contract of employment.

Most business will have more than one contractor on site at any one time.

You must consider how their work may affect other contractors and your activities on site, including any health and safety implications.

There are simple steps you can take to avoid problems with sub-contractors.


You should check and ensure that the sub-contractor has all the information required to do their job safely and to an acceptable standard.

It is good practice to communicate any changes to scheduling etc. to the sub-contractors as soon as possible.

You should also aim to be approachable so that the contractors feel like they can contact you if they have any problems regarding safety, quality of work or any other disputes. 

One way to achieve this may be by holding regular meetings with the subcontractors.

Health And Safety

All work activities are governed by health and safety law

Employees and contractors must take care to ensure that they do not endanger themselves, colleagues or others affected by their work.

Contractors must comply with Health and Safety legislation

However, you also must ensure that they do this.

This means that you must ensure that a sub-contractor is competent to perform their duties safely without causing risk to other employees, members of the public or any other persons that might be on site.

If an accident occurs on site due to the negligence of a contractor, you could be liable if it was found that you had not taken the correct steps to ensure that the sub-contractor was carrying out their duties correctly.

Implementing Action

It may be necessary for you to review and implement a plan to ensure that contractors and employees are aware of both your duties and their duties under the health and safety legislation.

You should review your health and safety policy, paying particular attention to any arrangements for sub-contractors.

Everyone should be aware of the practical arrangements/working methods used and any agreements whether written or not.

Any arrangements in place should be monitored regularly to ensure compliance, and reviewed if necessary.

No matter how small or large the job is, or how tight the schedule may be managing contractors does not start when they walk onto the site – health and safety, as well as other issues, need to be considered beforehand.

Sub-contractors should only be permitted to carry out work once they have been fully vetted and approved by you.

Even when you use the same contractors regularly over a prolonged period, you should ensure that you reassess them regularly to ensure that you are both complying with your legal obligations.

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About the author 

James Rowland

James is the Commercial Director at Neathouse Partners and regularly writes articles surrounding issues in HR & Employment Law. Outside of the office, James is a keen Cricketer, playing in the Cheshire League for Nantwich CC. He also loves going to watch his football team, Crewe Alexandra. Feel free to connect with James on LinkedIn.