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StreetwiseSubbie Guide to Dayworks

Daywork in Construction and Engineering Contracts

Most Specialist Subcontractors will be familiar with the term “daywork” but it is a term which means different things to different people. The basic principle of daywork is that the work done is recorded on a daywork sheet together with the labour material and plant resources utilised to carry out the work.

Ordinarily daywork will be used to value work carried out as a variation where that work cannot properly be valued by measurement.  There is no reason however why, in principle, an entire contract could not be carried out using daywork as a basis for valuation and payment.

Most standard forms of contract make provisions for variations to be valued on a daywork basis if the varied work cannot be properly valued by measurement However, few standard forms describe the process for completion, authorisation or submission of dayworks.  The Specialist Subcontractor should therefore check carefully to see what, if any, express provisions are contained in the contract relating to daywork.

In the absence of specific provisions the following are general guidelines may be appropriate:-

  1. Daywork sheets should be uniquely numbered and submitted under cover of a written record so that there is no argument about when records were issued. Daywork sheets should record each operative by name, grade, and the hours spent on a daily basis.
  1. The time spent should be as accurate as possible.  Attempts to increase hours may be easily discovered.  Conversely the daywork time ‘starts’ from when the operative ‘stops’ doing whatever it was he was doing prior to being instructed to do the daywork and should include any time spent setting up and clearing up.
  1. Daywork sheets should be authorised by someone in a position to verify that the resources identified on the sheet have in fact been used to carry out the work described.  The addition of the words ‘for record purposes only’ by the person signing the sheet, should not concern the Specialist Subcontractor.  That is exactly what the daywork sheet is, a contemporaneous record of the facts.
  1. The act of signing the daywork sheet does not ordinarily create an entitlement to payment or an intention to make payment.  The Specialist Subcontractor’s entitlement to payment or otherwise will stem from the contract as a whole.
  1. Ordinarily the rates used to price the daywork will be prime cost rates to which an agreed percentage is added.  It follows therefore that both the percentages to be agreed and the definition of prime cost should be agreed by the parties in advance.  Ordinarily the body representing the employers in the trade of the Specialist Subcontractor (e.g. The Electrical Contractors Association) will have issued a definition of prime cost.  Arguably prime cost calculated in accordance with that definition is the most appropriate method in the absence of an agreement between the parties.

If you already have a problem with a Contractor or Client and are not getting properly paid for subcontract variations and you need help to find a solution please check out the Dispute Resolution Section for information that may help you to resolve the situation.

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