For the first time in 40 years, the U.S. Department of Labor has proposed to amend regulations issued under the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts that set forth rules for the administration and enforcement of the Davis-Bacon labor standards that apply to Federal and federally assisted construction projects. Enacted in 1931, the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA) requires that each contract over $2,000 to which the United States or the District of Columbia is a party for the “construction, alteration, or repair of public buildings or public works,” contain a clause setting forth the minimum wages to be paid to laborers and mechanics employed under the contract. Pursuant to the Act, contractors or their subcontractors must pay workers employed directly upon the site of work no less than the locally prevailing wages and fringe benefits paid on projects of a similar nature. The DBA directs the Secretary of Labor to determine such local prevailing wage rates.
The proposed amendment seeks to speed up prevailing wage updates to ensure they keep up with actual wages. Ultimately, this would mean higher wages for workers to reflect the needs of today’s construction industry.
A few of the proposed changes will be beneficial to contractors, though most changes favor construction workers and unions. Proposed changes include: returning to the definition of “prevailing wage” used from 1935 to 1983 to ensure wages reflect actual wages paid to workers in the local community; periodically updating prevailing wage rates to address out-of-date wage determinations; providing broader authority to adopt state or local wage determinations when certain criteria is met; issuing supplemental rates for key job classifications when no survey data exists; updating the regulatory language to better reflect modern construction practices; and strengthening worker protections and enforcement, including debarment and anti-retaliation.
“Given recent unprecedented investments in our nation’s infrastructure, this comprehensive regulatory review is necessary to ensure employers on federally funded or assisted construction projects pay fair wages to the workers who build our roads, bridges, federal buildings and energy infrastructure,” said Acting Wage and Hour Division Administrator Jessica Looman.
With respect to compliance, Federal contractors and subcontractors should ensure that covered workers are properly classified and paid in accordance with the prevailing wage rate for their classification. Consequences for failure to comply with DBA requirements range from termination of the federal contract, debarment from doing business with the entire government as well criminal prosecution.
If you have question or concerns regarding how these changes will impact your business please contact the qualified attorneys at Rock Fusco & Connelly.