The Davis-Bacon Act


The Federal Prevailing Wage Law


The Davis-Bacon Act as amended, 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 shall contain a clause setting forth the minimum wages to paid to various classes of laborers and mechanics employed under the contract.  Under the provisions of the Act, contractors or their subcontractors are to pay workers employed directly upon the site of the work no less than the locally prevailing wages and fringe benefits paid on projects of a similar character.  The Davis-Bacon Act directs the Secretary of Labor to determine such local prevailing wage rates.


In addition to the Davis-Bacon Act itself, Congress has added prevailing wage provisions to approximately 60 statutes which assist construction projects through grants, loans, loan guarantees, and insurance.  These “related Acts” involve construction in such areas as transportation, housing, air and water pollution reduction, and health.  If a construction project is funded or assisted under more than one Federal statute, the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage provision may apply to the project if any of the applicable statutes require payment of Davis-Bacon wage rates.


Wage Determinations


A “wage determination” is the listing of wage rates and fringe benefits rates for each classification of laborers and mechanics which the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor has determined to be prevailing in a given area for a particular type of construction (such as:  building, heavy, highway or residential).


These wages must be posted at all times by all contractors and subcontractors at the site of the work in a prominent and accessible place where it can be easily seen.



Wages Paid


Once construction has begun, the workers’ wages will not change even if the area wage rates are modified.


Workers shall be paid mechanics (journeyman’s rate) unless they are paid as an apprentice.  To be considered an apprentice a worker must be registered in a bona fide apprenticeship program registered with the U.S Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship, or with a State Apprenticeship Agency recognized by the Bureau.