What Are The Risks Of Being A Sub-Contractor?


Subcontracting has become a great way to make a living as tradie. As a subcontractor, you aren’t an employee of any trades business, but you can still work for them. Trades businesses often then to subcontractors as a way to hire people to do work for their business.

If a trades business needs more workers for a project but doesn’t want to hire new employees, then a subcontractor is the go-to solution. As a subcontractor, you only get paid for the work that you do. After the project is complete, you’ll need to seek the next project again.

Life as a subcontractor can be freeing in many ways, but there are also certain risks that you may have to contend with. Make sure to protect yourself as a subcontractor with tradie insurance. Learn more about how insurance for tradies can help you protect your work as a subcontractor.

Here are the top five risks associated with being a subcontractor.

  1. Contract Requirements

Before you sign your contract, you need to be aware of what you’re signing. Subcontracts need to bid for the work they are doing. They write proposals and present them to general project managers alongside their bids. If accepted, they become a part of the project until it’s completed.

Where you stand to lose out as a subcontractor is in case you sign a contract that has unknown or hidden requirements. Scenarios where you aren’t paid for overtime, or you find yourself working more for less money can be prevented this way.

  1. Understand Scope of Work

Your scope of work is everything you’re expected to do for the project. Say you’re a painter, and you’ve been hired to help paint a large building. You were told that your scope of work would be limited to painting. Later, if you’re asked to work beyond what you’re being paid for, you can negotiate.

A subcontractor can find themselves in situations where they do more work without equivalent pay. Ask the project manager ahead of time about what they expect you to do.

  1. Stay On Top of Schedule Adjustments

You’ll need to arrive to work on time and complete your assigned tasks in an efficient manner. However, sometimes work schedule changes. While this information is more easily available to employees, you can’t always rely on others should you miss the information.

You don’t want to turn up to work an hour late, or worse, miss a day altogether. The project can also be delayed, requiring you to be a part of the project longer. By monitoring the project schedule on a regular basis, you ensure that you’re always available to do the work you need to do.

  1. Work Safety and Protective Equipment

Subcontractors who work with trades businesses need to ensure that they have adequate protective equipment. If you work in construction, then you can be in danger of physical injury and even death. Protective equipment like helmets, vests, safety gloves and goggles can keep you safe at work.

If your contract doesn’t include protective equipment, you can talk to your project manager about it. Ideally, they should provide you with your safety gear. In case they don’t, you should think about investing in protective gear for yourself. This keeps you protected in case of workplace accidents and injuries.

  1. Getting Paid on Time

Ensuring that you’re paid in a timely fashion is also a potential risk. The people you are working for may not pay you on time. This can happen when they themselves haven’t been paid by the client yet.

Consider being careful of all documents related to getting paid. Stay in touch with your supervisor until you receive your payment. Asking other subcontractors about whether they get paid on time or not can help you make decisions about who you work for as well.


Working as a subcontractor can lead to times when you have more work than others. You’ll need to be careful of workplace accidents, and ensure that you’re negotiating your role in projects in a good manner. While risks such as accidents and not getting paid on time exist, you can protect yourself against many of these risks.

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