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Questions about the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts

The Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBA or DBRA) covers laborers and mechanics performing on the “site of the work”, employed by contractors or sub-contractors. The Davis-Bacon and Related Acts establishes the requirement to pay prevailing wages on public works projects regardless of any contractual arrangement. Those found flouting the regulations and disregarding their obligation to employees may be subject to contract termination and debarment from future contracts for up to three years.

These laws sometimes lead to questions on adequate wages and travel expenses as answered below.

On a project governed by Davis-Bacon rules, do I have to pay for a hotel and meal expenses for employees who are travelling?

Whether or not you pay travel expenses usually depends on whether the location is in excess of a given number of miles from an established landmark. Employees who stay overnight would be entitled to per diem, whereas employees travelling each day to the project site would receive zone pay. The wage rate decision of the DBRA identifies applicable per diem and zone pays. In addition, some states have additional requirements beyond the DBRA.

As a union member, approximately $7.00 per hour is taken out of my check pre-tax. Non-union gets the entire amount in their check. Is this legal in Virginia?

Under the Davis-Bacon Act, it is not illegal to deduct union dues from your pay as the dues are collected towards union representation and the benefits they provide to you through representation. As a union member, you would be required to pay union dues even under workers’ compensation unless the union bylaws have a provision for suspending such dues.

Under the Davis-Bacon Act, does an electrician have to be a licensed journeyman to qualify for the wage specified?

Yes, the electrician must be a licensed journeyman to qualify for wages specified under the Davis-Bacon Act. The Act also allows apprentices, trainees, and helpers to be paid the rate specified in the project undertaken, which is expressed as a percentage of the journeyman rate on the wage determination. The Department of Labor’s website details the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts. Visit the website for more information.

Does an employer have the right to classify employees of a specialty trade on different jobs? How do I find out if I have been cheated on previous government jobs?

The DBRA mandates that all employees be paid the prevailing wages for the work involved. However, while the same obligation applies to specialty jobs, there can be a lot of ambiguity in the classification, where often the wages are decided on a case-by-case basis. Employers are subject to a fine if they underpay. The information by job classification may be procured through this website. If you know the wage determination number, you can use this link instead.

How do the Davis-Bacon wage rules apply for an owner of a company who also works in the field?

The DBRA regulates workers’ compensation on public works projects. If you are the owner of the company, then you need not pay yourself prevailing wages. If you are performing the work of laborers or mechanics on the site, you would be entitled to the applicable prevailing wage rate for the classification of work performed.

The DBRA requires that weekly pay should be calculated into the bid and crafted into the contract. However, if the subcontract price covers the applicable prevailing wage rate for the number of hours worked as a laborer or mechanic on the job, the Department of Labor considers the owner/subcontractor to have been paid in compliance.

Falsification of certified payroll records or other violations of the DBRA rules may result in civil or criminal prosecution against the contractor or subcontractor, penalty for which may be fines and/or imprisonment. It is therefore important to understand your rights and obligations under the DBRA by speaking to a legal
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