If you're a deck builder who works almost exclusively for a single contractor, or if you have a short list of subs who work almost exclusively for you, take note: Washington increasingly views those relationships as employer/employee rather than contractor/subcontractor relationships.

The toughening stance at the Labor Department (DOL) on the issue--best exemplified by an administrator's interpretation issued July 15 by the head of the Wage and Hour Division--has set off alerts within the construction community. At the least, Washington's stepped-up campaign should prompt companies that treat subcontractors as independent firms to re-examine whether their business practices can pass Labor's evolving standards. You can read more here.