The government has moved a step closer to introducing European late payment laws in the UK.
Business minister Michael Fallon launched a consultation on implementing EU legislation to combat delayed payment to British businesses.
The Directive is aimed at creating a level playing field for UK businesses trading with companies and public authorities in all member states.
It will require public bodies to pay suppliers within 30 days of receiving an invoice, and private companies to settle bills within 60 days unless otherwise fairly agreed.
Data from information services firm Experian recently showed that UK construction firms paid overdue bills in an average of 21.35 days beyond terms in the second quarter of 2012.
Fallon said: “Tackling late payment will free up millions of pounds in the supply chain, helping to boost the economy and safeguard the future of thousands of UK companies.”
The consultation will close on 19 October, with the directive due to become law in 16 March 2013.