Labour-only vs bona-fied subcontractors

If you run a building contractor business or a contracting business of any kind, you will fully understand the complexities of finding and hiring decent sub-contractors. Both labour-only and bona-fied subcontractors carry different risks and therefore have different insurance needs. Understanding the differences between these two subcontractors is vital and could protect your business from large fines, including up to £2,500 from the HSE (Health and Safety Executive).

This blog will outline the main differences between labour only and bona-fied subcontractors, raising some of the key considerations business must take when arranging their insurance. We hope our advice means that your business avoids any hefty fines. Always feel free to contact our team to speak to an expert if you still need help!

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Who are labour-only subcontractors?

Labour only subcontractors are additional employees who are hired for a certain period to complete large and long-term projects, which may too large or complex for a company’s current workforce. They are essentially employees in the same way full-time employees are hired, only they are temporary workers. It’s essential that all labour-only subcontractors are covered under your employers and public liabilities insurance policies.

If your subcontractors are paid daily, weekly or monthly, receive overtime bonus pay, work a fixed number of hours, work under your supervision and use your equipment and tools – they are most likely a labor-only contractor.

Who are bona-fied subcontractors?

Bona-fied subcontractors are very similar to labour-only subcontractors, however, there are a few differences that you must be aware of. Bona-fied subcontractors are usually hired to complete a specific project, such as electrics or roofing, and typically fill in skills gaps within your current workforce. Because bona-fied subcontractors work independently for your business they will need to have their own liability insurance policy.

Bona-fied subcontractors typically work on a fixed price contract, they decide their own working schedule, they decide where and when they do their work, work without direct supervisions and are fully liable for correcting unsatisfactory work.

So how does this affect their insurance?

If a bona-fied subcontractor is involved in an accident whilst working on one of your projects, and they don’t have employer’s or public liability insurance, your business may still be liable. We always recommend that businesses check those bona-fied subcontractors have the correct insurance in place. Also, make sure their policy is fully up to date.

As for labour-only subcontractors, always make sure you communicate any additional staff to your insurance provider. Otherwise, they may not be covered on your current employers and public liabilities insurance policy and could end up costing your business money in the event of an accident or injury at work.

Some of our top risk avoiding tips!

  • Check that all bona-fied subcontractors have their own, up to date employers and public liability insurance policy.
  • Contact your current insurance provider and make sure that your employers and public liability insurance policy will cover all your subcontractors before you start any new project.
  • Always get in a touch with a trade insurance specialist broker such as 1st Choice insurance if you need more information or advice.

If you have any questions or would simply like to speak to one of our team about your employers’ and public liability insurance, then please get in touch on 0800 078 7003 or email

Get a QuoteorRequest Callback  or Call 0800 078 7004