Davis-Bacon Act & Labor Laws
The Davis-Bacon Act requires the payment of prevailing wage rates, which are determined by the US Department of Labor (DOL), to all laborers and mechanics on federal government construction projects in excess of $2,000. Construction includes alteration and/or repair, painting and decorating, of public buildings or public works. Davis-Bacon does not apply to the rehabilitation of residential structures containing less than 8 units.
The DOL has published rules and instructions concerning Davis-Bacon and other labor laws in the Code of Federal Regulations (CDFR). These regulations can be found in Title 29 CDFR Parts 1, 3, 5, 6, and 7. However, the Making Davis-Bacon Work (PDF) fully and clearly explains the regulations.
The Davis-Bacon wage decision, or wage determination, is a listing of various construction work classifications, such as carpenter, electrical, plumber, and laborer. It also lists the minimum wage rates, and fringe benefits where prevailing, that people performing work in those classifications must be paid.
Davis-Bacon wage decisions are established by the DOL for various types of construction such as residential, heavy or highway, to apply to specific geographic areas usually a county or group of counties. Wage decisions are modified from time to time to remain current. In most cases, when the contract is awarded or when construction begins, the wage decision is locked in and no future modifications are applicable to the contract or project involved. All current Davis-Bacon wage decisions can be accessed on line at no cost on the Wage Determinations website.
Responsibility of the Principal Contractor
The principal contractor, also referred to as the prime or general contractor, is responsible for the full compliance of all employers such as the contractor, subcontractors, and any lower-tier subcontractors with the labor standards provisions applicable to the project. Because of the contractual relationship between a prime contractor and his/her subcontractors, subcontractors generally should communicate with the city's contract administrator only through the prime contractor.
Other Required Forms
Certified Payroll ReportsThe Certified Payroll Reports (PDF) is not required to be submitted;, however, any other type of payroll such as computerized formats must contain all of the information that is required on form WH-347 including the certification.
The prime contractor must submit a weekly Certified Payroll Report beginning with the 1st week work on the project and for every week afterward until all work is completed. The prime contractor should review each subcontractor's payroll reports for compliance prior to submitting the reports to the city's contract administrator. The prime contractor is responsible for the full compliance of all subcontractors on the contract and will be held accountable for any wage restitution that may be found due to any laborer or mechanic that is under paid and for any liquidated damages that may be assessed for overtime violations. All certified payroll reports must be submitted to the city's contract administrator through the prime contractor.
Project Wage Rate Sheet The Project Wage Rate Sheet (PDF) may be used after the wage decision locks in after the effective date. It does not replace the wage decision but simply lays out for easy reference all of the work classifications and wage rates that apply to that contract. A Project Wage Rate Sheet will remove any doubt a contractor may have about the wage rates that must be paid to any particular classification and can quickly disclose any misunderstanding.
Even the process to complete the Project Wage Rate Sheet can be helpful by identifying work classifications that are missing from the wage decision and that are needed for the project and will need to be conformed. The prime contractor is responsible for posting a copy of the entire wage decision at the job site in a place that is easily accessible to all of the construction workers employed at the project and where it won't be destroyed by wind or rain, etc. This makes it easy for workers to review the board to make sure that they are paid no less than the rate to which they are entitled.