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Why You Can NOT Rent a Master Electrician

Updated: Jun 5, 2023



Why You Need a Master Electrician

A master electrician, otherwise referred to as the responsible licensed individual (RLI), is the top position in the electrician trade. Since an RLI meets specific master electrician requirements, as compared to a Journeyman license, they are the person responsible for overseeing the project so everything is planned, designed, and constructed properly.

Most importantly, every electrical contracting business requires a master electrician. In the eyes of the Department of Labor (DOL), because of the qualifications an RLI needs to receive their master electrician license, they have the knowledge and experience to supervise electrical work. They are the legal representation of knowing how to conduct electrical work for the contractor.

To be a master electrician for a Minnesota licensed electrical contractor and all other states, the RLI needs to be the owner, partner, or full-time employee of the contractor. This is where the issues start arising when we consider the practice of renting a master electrician.

Can You Rent a Master Electrician?

In short, the answer is no.

Renting a master electrician is the practice of having an RLI provide the legal appearance for your business as having a master electrician. Oftentimes, contractors find master electricians advertising their services online or are retired electricians providing their license for your use.

In this practice, a contractor is using a properly licensed master electrician, but the RLI is not employed full-time or on-site to supervise the work, thus making it an unlawful practice. Renting a master electrician breaks the essential rule that your master electrician must be an owner, partner, or full-time employee of your electrical contracting company.

In addition, a master electrician can only be an RLI for one contractor. Master electricians renting their licenses are often listed as the RLI for multiple electrical contracting businesses and oftentimes in different states. For your RLI to conduct their work properly, they need to be working at your business, this means not jumping between sites for different contractors located in different states.

The two main requirements you must follow when employing a master electrician include:

  1. Must be an owner, partner, or full-time employee of the contracting company

  2. Is a master electrician for a single contractor

Consequences of Renting a Master Electrician

In the electrician trade, there have been misconceptions around renting master electricians causing contractors to unknowingly be conducting unlawful practices. And some have been doing so for years simply because of the misleading information.

Yet, the DOL is not taking the practice lightly, meaning there are significant consequences for renting a master electrician. Some of the consequences include:

  • Suspending license for electrical contractors until they have employed a qualified master electrician

  • Revoking the license of a master electrician renting their services

  • Impose extremely high monetary fines reaching upwards to the $10,000 range

  • Requiring reinspection and new permits for completed work since the original permits were signed off by an unqualified master electrician

The consequences of renting a master electrician are not something to take lightly.

What Should I do?

If you are renting a master electrician or your RLI does not follow the legal requirements (they are an owner/partner/full-time employee and only works for your company), then you need to correct the situation. Whether this means finding a new RLI or hiring your master electrician full-time, you need to comply with the rules to avoid severe consequences.

If you don’t know how to correct the situation or are unsure if your master electrician complies with the rules, we recommend contacting your attorney or contacting Minnesota Construction Law Services (MNCLS). We can answer your questions or discuss your situation to determine the best plan that will protect your business.

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