Wage Determinations

Wage Determinations

28) What is a “wage determination?”

A "wage determination" is the listing of wage rates and fringe benefit rates for each classification of laborers and mechanics which the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the USDOL has determined to be prevailing in a given geographical area for a particular type of construction (e.g., building, heavy, highway, or residential). The prevailing wage is the wage paid to the majority (more than 50 percent) of the laborers or mechanics in the classification on similar projects in the area during the same period. If the same wage is not paid to a majority of those employed in the classification, the prevailing wage shall be the average of the wages paid, weighted by the total employed in the classification. A “wage determination” includes not only the original determination (or decision) but any subsequent determinations modifying, superseding, correcting, or otherwise changing the rates and scope of the original determination.

The USDOL Wage and Hour Division issues two types of wage determinations: general wage determinations, also known as area wage determinations, and project wage determinations.

29 CFR 1.2(a)(1)
WHD Davis-Bacon and Related Acts Frequently Asked Questions, I.

29) What is a “general wage determination?”

A “general wage determination” (GWD) reflects those rates determined to be prevailing in a specific geographic area for the type of construction described. “General wage determinations,” including any subsequent decisions modifying, superseding, correcting, or otherwise changing the rates and scope of the original wage decision, contain no expiration dates and are effective from their date of publication on the Wage Determination On Line (WDOL) web site at https://beta.sam.gov/; or notice in the Federal Register; or on the date the written notice is received by the contracting agency, whichever is earlier.

When a contracting agency has a proposed construction project to which a published GWD would be applicable, that wage determination may be used by the contracting agency without consulting the USDOL, provided that questions concerning its use shall be referred to the USDOL in accordance with 29 CFR 1.6(b).

When a contracting agency has a proposed construction project to which there is not an applicable published GWD, the contracting agency must request a wage determination using Standard Form (SF) 308 , “Request For Wage Determination And Response To Request.”

29 CFR 1.6(a)(2)
Wage Determination OnLine (WDOL)
WHD Davis-Bacon & Related Acts Frequently Asked Questions, I., General WD

30) What is a “project wage determination?”

A “project wage determination” is a wage determination for a specific named construction project. It is issued at the request of a Federal agency or a “State highway department under the Federal-aid Highway Acts” using Form SF-308, “Request For Wage Determination And Response To Request.” A “project wage determination” expires 180 calendar days from the date of issuance unless an extension of the expiration date is requested by the contracting agency and approved by the USDOL

Wage and Hour Division.

29 CFR 1.6
29 CFR 1.5(b)
Standard Form (SF) 308
WHD Davis-Bacon & Related Acts Frequently Asked Questions, I., Project WD

31) When a wage determination does not contain a classification of worker needed to complete construction of a project, can the wage and fringe benefit rates for a worker classification be transferred to other workers on the project?

NO. The wage and fringe benefit rates for worker classifications listed in wage determinations are unique to a particular type of construction and the type of work being performed. Therefore, wage and fringe benefit rates for a worker classification are not transferrable to other worker classification.

32) What are the procedures for requesting a missing worker classification?

The contracting agency shall require that any classification of laborers or mechanics which are not listed in the wage determination and which are to be employed under the contract be classified in conformance with the wage determination.

When a classification considered necessary for performance of the work is missing from the WD, the contractor must initiate a request for approval for a proposed wage and benefit rate that conforms to the wage determination. The contractor can initiate this action by preparing a Standard Form 1444 (SF-1444), Request for Authorization of Additional Classification and Rate.” The wage rate proposed by the contractor must bear a "reasonable relationship" to the wage rates in the WD.

AAM No. 213

When only one classification necessary for performance of the work is missing in the WD, the contracting agency may request a project wage determination using Standard Form (SF) 308 , ”Request For Wage Determination And Response To Request." Once the contract has been awarded, the project wage determination may be incorporated into the contract through supplemental agreement or through change order.

WHD Davis-Bacon and Related Acts Frequently Asked Questions, VI.

33) What criteria must be satisfied for an additional worker classification to be approved by the USDOL Wage and Hour Division?

The approval of an additional worker classification and the proposed wage and fringe benefits rates requires that the following criteria be satisfied:

  1. The work to be performed by the worker classification requested is not performed by any other worker classification in the wage determination; and
  2. The worker classification requested is utilized in the area by the construction industry; and
  3. The proposed wage rate, including any bona fide fringe benefits, bears a reasonable relationship to the wage rates contained in the wage determination; and
  4. There is evidence of agreement on the worker classification and proposed wage rate among the parties involved, or the views of those involved -- the contractor(s), employees (if known) or their representative, and the contracting officer/agency -- are forwarded for consideration to the Wage and Hour Division; and
  5. The request does not involve wage rates for apprentices or trainees.

29 CFR 5.5(a)(1)(ii)
WHD Davis-Bacon and Related Acts Frequently Asked Questions, VI.

34) Who is responsible for deciding which wage determination would be appropriate to use on a specific project?

The contracting agency is responsible for determining the applicable wage determination to furnish to all parties involved on a project. See Where can I obtain a copy of the General Wage Determination needed for a covered federal project? for more details.

35) How does the USDOL Wage and Hour Division determine prevailing wages?

The US DOL Wage and Hour Division establishes prevailing wage rates using available data showing the rates for the type of construction and worker classification prevailing in a specific geographical area. The sources of data may include, but is not limited to:

  1. Conducting in-house reviews of payroll data, or
  2. Conducting surveys of wage data from active projects.

36) What prevailing wage determination applies to laborers and mechanics engaged in warranty or repair work under a construction contract?

The original contract prevailing wage determination applies regardless of when the warranty work is done. This is true whether or not there is a pay item for the warranty work.

29 CFR 1.6(a) (1)
AAM No. 157

37) What prevailing wage determination should be used when a project is located on the border between two States with separate wage determinations?

The prevailing wage determinations are based on the prevailing wage rates for the area that the work will be performed. When a project site of the work is located in more than one area with separate wage determinations, the contracting agency has two options:

  1. Include all applicable GWDs in the contract, therefore, the contractor is required to pay employees based on where the work was performed using the appropriate GWD, or;
  2. Request a project wage rate determination for the project using

Standard Form (SF) 308 , “Request for Wage Determination and Response to Request.”

38) What wage rate determination should be used on a contract that has more than one wage rate schedule with the same worker classification?

The contracting agency is responsible for insuring that only the appropriate wage determination(s) are incorporated in bid solicitations and contract specifications, and for designating specifically the work to which such wage determination will apply. It is possible for a project to have a worker classification for heavy construction and the same worker classification for highway construction. Because of the complexities in applying multiple wage rate schedules, the contracting agency should consult with the Wage and Hour Division to resolve any questions.

29 CFR 1.6(b)

39) Is the contractor allowed an equitable adjustment if a correction is necessary for a wage determination based on a clerical error by the USDOL?

YES. The contractor is compensated for any increases in wages resulting from a necessary wage rate modification retroactive to the beginning of construction through the effective date of the modification.

40) Do new wage determinations apply to construction contracts that have already been awarded?

A proper wage determination incorporated into a bid solicitation and related contract award establishes the minimum wage and fringe benefits rates which must be paid to the laborers and mechanics for the entire term of the contract. Modifications to a wage determination issued after the bid opening do not apply.

Upon his or her own initiative or at the request of a contracting agency, the USDOL Wage and Hour Division may correct any wage determination believed to contain an inadvertent clerical error. Such corrections shall be included in any bid specifications containing the wage determination, or in any on-going contract containing the wage determination in question, retroactively to the start of construction.

29 CFR 1.6(d)
Prevailing Wage Rates

41) What prevailing wage determination applies when a contracting agency executes an option provision in a multi-year contract to extend the terms of the contract for a specified period of time?

When a contracting agency executes an option provision in a multi-year contract to extend the terms of the contract for a specified period of time, the prevailing wage determination effective at that time the option was executed must be incorporated into the contract. See November 20, 1998, Federal Register Notice titled: “Guidance to All Government Contracting Agencies of the Federal Government and the District of Columbia Concerning Application of Davis-Bacon Wage Determinations to Contracts With Option Clauses” for detailed guidance.

42) What is a supersedeas wage determination?

Supersedeas Wage Determinations are issued annually to replace general decisions issued in the previous edition of the publication entitled General Wage Determinations issued under the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts. Supersedeas project wage determinations may also be issued.

Supersedeas decisions affecting determinations are effective under the same circumstances as "modifications." Whereas a modification to a wage determination may make changes in only selected provisions of the wage determination, a supersedeas determination replaces the entire existing wage decision.

WHD Davis-Bacon and Related Acts Frequently Asked Questions, I.

43) What is the 10-day rule?

A contracting agency is responsible for incorporating the applicable wage rate determination into each federally-assisted contract entered into pursuant to competitive bidding procedures. When notice of a change to a wage determination is published in the Federal Register 10 days or more before the opening of bids, the USDOL requires that the new wage determination be incorporated into the contract by amendment.

29 CFR1.6(c)(3)(i)

44) When a contracting agency has failed to incorporate a wage determination in a covered contract and/or has incorporated a wage determination that clearly does not apply to the contract (e.g. inaccurate description of project, inaccurate location in a wage determination request), what can the contracting agency do?

  1. Terminate and re-solicit the contract with a valid wage determination, or
  2. Incorporate a valid wage determination retroactive to the beginning of construction through supplemental agreement or through change order. The contractor must be compensated for any increases in wages resulting from such contract change.

29 CFR 1.6(f)



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