• Prevailing Wage Basics from the Office of the Attorney General

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    May 14, 2018
    The Massachusetts prevailing wage laws require that covered employees on public works projects be paid a minimum hourly rate set by the Department of Labor Standards (DLS). The prevailing wage laws apply to both union and non-union employers/employees. See G.L. c. 149, §§ 26-27H. 
    Below is a list of some basic prevailing wage requirements. The list is not exhaustive, and failure to comply with these laws can result in significant civil penalties or potential criminal enforcement. It is important that you understand your obligations before you decide to perform work on a public works project.
    You must ensure workers are paid properly.
    All employees, regardless of whether they are employed by the general contractor, a filed sub-bidder, or any subcontractor, who perform work on a public works project, must be paid the prevailing rate per hour according to the schedule issued for the particular project. If you are unsure which rate to pay an employee for any particular work, you must contact the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS) at 617-626-6953 for guidance.  Employers are limited in the deductions that may be made from the hourly “total rate” on the wage rate schedules.  Only contributions made to bona fide benefit plans, allowed pursuant to the applicable prevailing wage rate schedule, are permissible deductions.
    Your bid must reflect the prevailing wage rate.
    Awarding authorities must request the prevailing wage rate schedules for each public works project from DLS.  The awarding authority must also provide the rate schedule to all bidders and monitor the contractors’ compliance with the prevailing wage laws.  An awarding authority’s failure to request a rate sheet could result in litigation for back wages owed to workers or the voiding of the contract. Make sure the awarding authority has included the rate schedule in the bid package for a public works project.
    You must submit and keep certified payroll records.
    Contractors on public works projects are required to submit weekly payroll reports directly to the awarding authority via mail or e-mail, and keep them on file for three years from the date of completion of the contract. These weekly payroll reports are commonly known as “certified payroll records” (CPRs). Each CPR report must contain at least the employee’s name, address, occupational classification, hours worked and wages paid and you must produce these records to the Attorney General’s Office upon demand. 

    You must ensure your employees are OSHA 10 certified.
    All employees who are entitled to receive the prevailing wage must have completed the OSHA 10 training. Contractors must provide documentation of the OSHA 10 training on the CPR for each employee the first time the individual is listed on a weekly payroll record. Employees must carry documentation of OSHA 10 training on their person when they are on the worksite or be able to immediately direct a representative of the Office of the Attorney General (AGO) to the documentation.
    You and your workers must comply with specific apprentice registration requirements.
    All apprentices must be registered individually with the Massachusetts Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) in order to be paid at the lower apprentice rates as listed on the prevailing wage rate schedule. All apprentice programs must also be registered with DAS. Note: registration with another state or federal agency’s apprentice program does not satisfy this requirement. All apprentices must keep his/her apprentice identification card on his/her person during all work hours. If an employee is not registered with MA DAS, s/he must be paid the journeyworker “total rate” listed on the wage rate schedule regardless of experience or skills. A copy of each worker’s apprentice ID card must be submitted with every CPR listing a worker(s) being paid the apprentice wage rate.
    Have Questions?  Two state government agencies have different responsibilities related to the prevailing wage laws:
    • DLS is responsible for the administration and interpretation of the laws.  DLS issues wage schedules and job classifications, and makes determinations on the applicability of the prevailing wage.  Appeals of prevailing wage rate schedules may be made to DLS.  (617) 626-6953/www.mass.gov/dols/pw
    • The AGO’s Fair Labor Division is responsible for enforcing the prevailing wage laws and receives all public construction bid protests. The AGO also notifies awarding authorities and DCAMM of prevailing wage law violations by contractors. Prevailing wage enforcement: (617) 727-3465; public construction bid unit: 617- 963-2371.  Visit www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor for more information about the prevailing wage and public construction bidding laws.

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