According to the New York City Council website, on March 21, Mayor Bill de Blasio enacted Introduction 247-A, a bill which amends the New York City administrative code to increase the civil and criminal penalties for performing electrical work without a license.

For criminal penalties, the bill increased the maximum fine from $5,000 to $25,000 and lengthened the maximum prison term from six months to one year. Additionally, the civil penalty for a first-time violation was increased to $4,800.

The penalties are now commensurate with the penalties already in place for performing unlicensed work in other construction trades.  

City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley (D–Queens) introduced the bill to protect consumers from unlicensed electricians, whose training, safety procedures or insurance cannot be verified.

“When electrical work is done by unlicensed contractors, both workers and civilians are put at grave risk of either fires or explosions. I believe these stiffer penalties are necessary to effectively deter unlicensed contractors from engaging in work that is a threat to New Yorkers’ safety. In a city that never sleeps, it’s imperative that electrical work is done by skilled, trained professionals. It’s a matter of public safety,” Council Member Crowley said.

The NYC Committee on Housing and Buildings held a hearing on Dec. 13, 2016, to discuss Introduction 257-A amongst other bills. At this meeting, several electrical industry members spoke in support of the legislation, including Stephen Gianotti, president of the New York chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association; Carol Kleinberg, owner and CEO of Kleinberg Electric and president of the Association of Electrical Contractors; and Benjamin Arana, a business representative from IBEW Local No. 3.

In addition to safety concerns as a result of substandard work, industry members cited a variety of unjust and deceitful business practices that are difficult to monitor when a person is working without a license, including the use of undocumented workers, not paying proper payroll or income tax, dodging permit fees and not providing workers’ compensation insurance.

The increased penalties are intended to prevent these practices by deterring individuals from working without a license.

The law will take effect 90 days after its signing.