Davis-Bacon Wage Determinations

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is responsible for determining prevailing wage rates for construction work pursuant to the Davis-Bacon Act and publishes schedules of these wages in Davis-Bacon wage decisions. DOL regulations pertaining to the determination, publication, use and effectiveness of Davis-Bacon wage decisions (also known as wage determinations) are found at 29 CFR Part 1.

It is critical that the applicable Davis-Bacon wage decision and federal labor standards provisions are incorporated, either by hard-copy or by specific reference, into the bid specifications and contract for each project subject to Davis-Bacon requirements.

Character of work. Davis-Bacon wage decisions are established for four (4) broad categories (characters) of construction work (see also AllAgency Memoranda 130 and 131, available at https://beta.sam.gov/:

  1. Residential: Construction, rehabilitation or repair of single family homes and apartment buildings no more than 4 stories, including incidental items such as site work, parking areas, utilities, streets and sidewalks, unless there is an established area practice to the contrary.
  2. Building: Construction, rehabilitation or repair of apartment buildings great than 4 stories, sheltered enclosures with walk-in access for the purpose of housing people, machinery, equipment or supplies.
  3. Highway: Construction, rehabilitation or repair of roads, streets, highways, sidewalks, parking areas and most other paving work not incidental to residential, building or heavy construction.
  4. Heavy: A “catch-all” category which includes those projects which cannot be classified as “residential”, “building”, or “highway”. Examples include dredging, sanitary and storm sewers, water mains and supply lines, dams, and flood control projects.

General wage decisions. General wage decisions are published for specific characters of work and by geographic location, usually a county or group of counties. General wage decisions are available on-line at https://beta.sam.gov/.

General wage decisions may be modified from time-to-time to keep them current. Modifications are listed numerically on the wage decision modification record (found on the first page of the wage decision). A modification may change one or more, or all work classifications and/or wage rates, however each modification replaces the preceding modification in its entirety. For example, Modification #4 to a wage decision completely replaces Modification #2 of that wage decision.

Selecting the correct wage decision. LCAs must select the correct wage decision for each project. The correct wage decision is that which is current (i.e., the current modification of that wage decision) and that is applicable based on the character of the work and the geographic location. The appropriate location is generally the county in which the project/construction work will be physically located when completed. Contact the HUD Labor Relations Specialist if there is no published general wage decision appropriate for the proposed work.

Wage decision “effective” dates. Wage decisions “lock-in” (i.e., become effective) for each covered project based upon bid opening, contract award of start of construction (see 29 CFR Part 1). After “lock-in”, the wage decision is “frozen” for the duration of the construction work, i.e., the wage decision for the project is no longer subject to modification. Wage decisions for most LCA projects will “lock-in” at contract award or start of construction if there is no award except:

  1. For contracts entered into pursuant to competitive bidding, the wage decision will “lock-in” on the bid opening date provided that the contract is awarded within 90 days.
  2. If the contract is not awarded within 90 days, the wage decision must be updated as of the date of award.
  3. Modifications that are published less than 10 days before bid opening may be disregarded if it is found that there is not a reasonable amount of time to notify prospective bidders of the modification before bid opening. If so, a record of the finding must be made to the contract file.

Conformances (additional classifications). At times, the wage decision will not contain some of the work classification and wage rates that will be needed for the construction work. In these cases, HUD may approve an additional classification(s) and wage rates(s) for use on the project, subject to a final decision by DOL.

  1. A request for additional classification and wage rate may be made only after contract award. The request must originate with the contractor/employer and must be submitted by the LCA to the HUD Labor Relations Specialist.
  2. An additional classification and wage rate will be approved by HUD where:
    1. The requested work classification is used in the area of the project by the construction industry;
    2. The work that will be performed is not performed by a work classification already contained in the wage decision;
    3. The proposed wage rate bears a reasonable relationship to the wage rates on the wage decision; and
    4. The workers that will be employed in the requested work classification (if known), or the workers’ representatives (if any), agree with the proposed wage rate.

Consulting Services We Provide

  • Review public works preconstruction contracts
  • Monitor DIR contractor/subcontractor certified payrolls
  • Audit labor classification for each worker employed
  • Review DIR pre-DAS 140/142 submissions
  • Review CAC training fund contributions form CAC-2
  • Review DIR Fringe Benefits Statement PW-26
  • Monitor DIR wage determinations
  • Audit fringe benefits allowances
  • Review DIR holiday payment requirements
  • Audit DIR travel & subsistence requirements
  • Caltrans Labor Compliance
  • County of Sacramento Labor Compliance
  • City of Los Angeles Labor Compliance
  • Los Angeles Unified School District Labor Compliance
  • Federal Davis-Bacon Project Monitoring
  • Federal DBE Implementation & Review
  • Federal FAA AIP Goal Setting
  • DIR & Davis-Bacon Training
  • DIR Civil Wage Penalty Review
  • Local-Hire Review (e.g., San Francisco)
  • Skilled and Trained Workforce

Give us a call to discuss your labor compliance requirements: 916-234-3958.

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