Effective August 19, 2014, New Jersey Senate Bill 2363 went into effect, requiring contractors required to register under the Contractors’ Registration Act, N.J.S.A. §§ 56:8-136, et seq. — home improvement contractors — to wear a state-issued identification badge “on the upper left corner of his torso when the contractor is performing, or engaging, or attempting to engage in the business of selling home improvements” at all times on the job. The badge includes a color photograph of the employee’s face along with his/her name, and the contractor’s registration number and business name. A new badge is required every six years. Governor Chris Christie signed into law S.B. 2363 on August 19, 2013. The bill was reportedly prompted by fears of potential scams on Superstorm Sandy victims. It is believed that requiring contractors’ employees to wear these badges will add another layer of protection against fraud.
New Jersey isn’t the only state that requires certain contractors’ employees to wear badges. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries October 2014 Electrical Currents newsletter reminds all electricians and trainees that they are required to possess, wear and visibly display their certificates. Washington’s Administrative Code WAC §§ 296-46B-940 and 296-46B-942 require all electricians and trainees to “possess, wear, and visibly display on the front of the upper body, a current valid [certificate].” WAC 296-46B-940(3) further provides that “[t]he certificate may be worn inside the outer layer of clothing when outer protective clothing (e.g., rain gear when outside in the rain, arc flash, welding gear, etc.) is required. The certificate must be worn inside the protective clothing so that when the protective clothing is removed, the certificate is visible. A cold weather jacket or similar apparel is not protective clothing. The certificate may be worn inside the outer layer of clothing when working in an attic or crawl space or when operating equipment (e.g., drill motor, conduit threading machine, etc.) where wearing the certificate may pose an unsafe condition for the individual.” “The certificate must be immediately available for examination at all times.” It is believed that requiring the visible display of the certificates while performing work “allows the public, customers, and other workers to have the knowledge that properly certified persons are the ones doing the work.” In its newsletter, electricians and trainees are encouraged to “Wear your certificate with pride – you earned it!”
In California, the Contractors State License Board issues a “pocket license” and encourages consumers to not only confirm that the contractor is properly licensed but to review the contractor’s pocket license to confirm that the name on the pocket license is the same as the name the contractor originally provided. Like New Jersey, California and other states are acutely aware that homeowners are most vulnerable to fraud by unlicensed contractors after a natural disaster. In California, these illegal operators face serious prison time if caught working or trying to get contracting work over $500 in a state-declared emergency area. California Business & Professions Code § 7028.16 provides that: “A person who engages in the business or acts in the capacity of a contractor, without having a license therefor, in connection with the offer or performance of repairs to a residential or nonresidential structure for damage caused by a natural disaster for which a state of emergency is proclaimed by the Governor pursuant to [California Government Code § 8625], or for which an emergency or major disaster is declared by the President of the United States, shall be punished by a fine up to [$10,000], or by imprisonment … for 16 months, or for two or three years, or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by a fine up to [$1,000], or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.”