What is a Public Works Project?
and/or repair, painting and decorating, financed in whole or in part from federal funds.
- The Federal prevailing wage determination, established by the U.S. Department of Labor, is the wage most often
paid in the locality where the work is performed. It is the predetermined hourly wage for the classification of
work performed, including benefits.
- Some classifications have more than one division of pay. The wage determination sheet for the project will
list the classifications.
- Workers should not be paid anything less than the wage required for the type of work they perform. If work
is performed in a higher classification, they must be paid the wages for that classification.
- Overtime on Federal projects must be paid at one and a half times the base wage rate for all hours over
forty (40) worked in a week. Overtime pay is not required on fringe benefits.
Wages on federal projects fall into two categories: (1) the basic wage and (2) fringe benefits.
The contract documents for each project will specify the base wage rate and a separate amount for fringe benefits.
These rates can differ for each craft classification. Employers can legally pay earned fringe benefits in one of two ways:
- By paying the full base wage and the amount of the fringe benefit on the paycheck or
- By paying the base wage on the paycheck and paying the amount of the fringe benefit into health insurance and/or retirement plans.
If the employer pays fringe benefit into health insurance and/or retirement programs, they must inform their employees,
in writing, your right to receive benefits from these plans. These plans must also be approved by the U.S. Department of Labor.
On federal projects workers are entitled to overtime pay for any hours worked after forty hours in a work week. Overtime must be paid at not less than one and a half times the basic wage rate listed for the classification(s) of the work performed. It is illegal for employers to bank or carry hours over from one week to the next week. Overtime pay is not required on the amount of the fringe benefits.
On federal projects employers must post a copy of the wages and fringe benefits in an easily seen and accessible area at the project site. The posted wage sheet will list the basic wage rate and fringe benefits for each separate craft classification.
On federal projects employers must submit Certified Payroll Records each week to the contracting agency (Public Body) showing each employee’s name, classification(s) of work performed and actual wages and benefits paid. Workers should keep accurate records, including pay stubs, for each separate project and classification they worked in order to substantiate any underpayment.
It is important that workers keep accurate records for each day and each separate project worked on. Make sure that you note the classification(s) that you worked on and the amount of time spent working in each classification. By comparing your records to the employer’s certified payroll records, the contracting agency or the U.S. Department of Labor will be able to determine the amount of underpayment. It is essential that any underpayment be brought to the attention of the contracting agency before completion of the project. Recovery after project completion may be difficult.
In order to recover wage underpayments on federal contracts, an employee may be able to file against the bond for the project. The Miller Act requires that on federal contracts in excess of $25,000 for construction, alteration or repair of any public building or public work of the United States, may not be awarded to any person until such person furnishes to the United States a bond with a surety for all persons supplying labor and material in the prosecution of the work provided for in the contract. The Act provides procedures for and the specific limitations for recovery under such bond.
Contractors submitting falsified payroll records for payment under government contracts are subject to actions under the Federal False Claims Act.
Any person who: