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Some contractors still get paychecks

But the storm will hurt other workers on payday

Some contractors still get paychecks
  • October 01, 2005

A few Houston-area companies, recognizing the good will it creates, are paying their contractors for work they missed during Hurricane Rita.

That's despite the fact that the law doesn't require them to.

Tony Pannagl, managing partner of IS&T, an information technology consulting firm, said several of his clients would pay for their contractors' time even though they didn't work.

He's also called clients who haven't stepped forward and suggested they do the same. Even though some said they wouldn't pay, others agreed to pay and some said they'd pay for a portion of the missed time.

And to make sure his own clerical contract workers don't suffer financially for the four days IS&T was closed, Pannagl is paying their wages to the temp firm he uses.

"They sent me nice notes to say thanks," Pannagl said. "To be out a week is a pretty big hickey out of people's paychecks."

That sentiment was expressed in calls and e-mails that Joe Ahmad, an employment lawyer with Ahmad, Zavitsanos & Anaipakos, received this week from upset contract workers who aren't getting paid.

"Companies are saying: 'Too bad. Tough. We're not paying you,' " Ahmad said. "And our wonderful labor laws leave you at the whim of your employers' good will."

Other companies that immediately announced they would pay their own workers during the evacuation are delicately grappling with how to handle the thorny pay issue for their contractors.

BP has been having conversations with its contractors on what the effect of the hurricane has been for their workers, said Hugh Depland, general manager of public affairs for the nonrefining portion of the Gulf Coast region.

BP, which relies on the work of several hundred contractors, is not in the position to pay everyone because of the legal issues involved, he said. The company doesn't want to inadvertently turn contractors into employees, who by law work under different pay arrangements.

Shell is leaving the evacuation pay decisions for its contract workers up to the contracting companies, Shell spokeswoman Darci Sinclair said.

"We're encouraging them to take care of their employees as they see fit," she said.

Jamie Carpen, district public relations manager for the temporary staffing firm Robert Half International, said a handful of clients have come forward to pay their temps. But those without special arrangements won't get paid, she said.