(a) This section is applicable with respect to all contracts entered into on or after January 1, 1993, relating to the construction of any public work of improvement.
(b) The retention proceeds withheld from any payment by the public entity from the original contractor, or by the original contractor from any subcontractor, shall be subject to this section.
(c) Within 60 days after the date of completion of the work of improvement, the retention withheld by the public entity shall be released. In the event of a dispute between the public entity and the original contractor, the public entity may withhold from the final payment an amount not to exceed 150 percent of the disputed amount. For purposes of this subdivision, "completion" means any of the following:
(1) The occupation, beneficial use, and enjoyment of a work of improvement, excluding any operation only for testing, startup, or commissioning, by the public agency, or its agent, accompanied by cessation of labor on the work of improvement.
(2) The acceptance by the public agency, or its agent, of the work of improvement.
(3) After the commencement of a work of improvement, a cessation of labor on the work of improvement for a continuous period of 100 days or more, due to factors beyond the control of the contractor.
(4) After the commencement of a work of improvement, a cessation of labor on the work of improvement for a continuous period of 30 days or more, if the public agency files for record a notice of cessation or a notice of completion.
(d) Subject to subdivision (e), within seven days from the time that all or any portion of the retention proceeds are received by the original contractor, the original contractor shall pay each of its subcontractors from whom retention has been withheld, each subcontractor's share of the retention received. However, if a retention payment received by the original contractor is specifically designated for a particular subcontractor, payment of the retention shall be made to the designated subcontractor, if the payment is consistent with the terms of the subcontract.
(e) The original contractor may withhold from a subcontractor its portion of the retention proceeds if a bona fide dispute exists between the subcontractor and the original contractor. The amount withheld from the retention payment shall not exceed 150 percent of the estimated value of the disputed amount.
(f) In the event that retention payments are not made within the time periods required by this section, the public entity or original contractor withholding the unpaid amounts shall be subject to a charge of 2 percent per month on the improperly withheld amount, in lieu of any interest otherwise due. Additionally, in any action for the collection of funds wrongfully withheld, the prevailing party shall be entitled to attorney's fees and costs.
(g) If a state agency retains an amount greater than 125 percent of the estimated value of the work yet to be completed pursuant to Section 10261, the state agency shall distribute undisputed retention proceeds in accordance with subdivision (c). However, notwithstanding subdivision (c), if a state agency retains an amount equal to or less than 125 percent of the estimated value of the work yet to be completed, the state agency shall have 90 days in which to release undisputed retentions.
(h) Any attempted waiver of the provisions of this section shall be void as against the public policy of this state.
(Amended by Stats. 1998, Ch. 857, Sec. 3.)