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Five Facts About Davis-Bacon and Related Acts

A group of workers at a work site.

With President Biden’s signing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law on Nov. 15, 2021, our nation is poised to address our aging infrastructure and at the same time create an estimated 800,000 good paying jobs in construction and related industries. Most of the construction projects funded or assisted through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be subject to Davis-Bacon prevailing wage labor standards. That means construction workers on these projects must be paid at least the locally prevailing wage and fringe benefits required for the work they perform.

Davis-Bacon and Related Acts and other prevailing wage protections ensure that government funds elevate labor standards for construction workers across the country while at the same time ensuring responsible contractors can compete on federally funded construction projects. 

Currently, the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts apply to roughly $217 billion in federal and federally assisted construction spending each year and provide minimum prevailing wage rates for approximately 1.2 million U.S. construction workers. We expect those numbers to continue to increase as a result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

In the most comprehensive review of the regulations that implement the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts in 40 years, the U.S. Department of Labor recently published a notice of proposed rulemaking, Updating the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts Regulations, to better reflect the conditions and requirements of the construction industry in 2022 as well as for future federal construction investments. The Wage and Hour Division is seeking the public’s input on the proposed update.

Here are a few facts about the Davis-Bacon Act and instructions on how to share your thoughts on the proposed changes and make your voice heard.

5 Things to Know about Davis-Bacon

  1. Davis-Bacon is a federal law that requires local prevailing wages be paid on most federal and federally funded construction contracts. The Davis-Bacon Act ensures that federal government funds elevate labor standards for construction workers across the country, and that taxpayer dollars are used to ensure local wage and benefit standards, allowing responsible contractors to compete for federally funded or assisted construction contracts.

  2. If it’s a Davis-Bacon project, it requires Davis-Bacon wages. Construction workers working on Davis-Bacon covered construction contracts must be paid no less than the locally prevailing wages for all hours worked in each labor classification. If a construction worker on a Davis-Bacon project works in more than one labor classification, the contractor or subcontractor must pay the highest applicable wage rate for all hours worked or different wage rates based on the actual hours worked in each labor classification. Local wage determinations that list labor classification and wage rates are issued by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department and can be found at sam.gov.

  3. Understand the wages owed to construction workers. Contractors and subcontractors on Davis-Bacon projects must pay their construction workers not less than the wages and fringe benefits listed on the wage determination for the work performed. To help ensure workers are paid the proper rates, workers, contractors and subcontractors should familiarize themselves with:

    1. where the work is being performed,

    2. the type of construction (building, residential, highway, or heavy), and

    3. the applicable labor classifications for the work being performed.

Any person who wants to determine if a project is covered by the Davis-Bacon Act or a Related Act or who has questions about their wages should contact the Wage and Hour Division or the federal agency funding the project.

  1. Certified payroll reports help ensure workers are paid the correct wages for the work they perform. Certified payroll reports play a crucial role in ensuring that construction workers on Davis-Bacon projects are paid the proper wages for the work performed. Contractors and subcontractors must pay covered workers and submit a certified payroll report on a weekly basis. Contracting agencies may withhold contract funds if certified payroll records are not submitted or are submitted unsigned, and falsification of certified payroll reports can even lead to criminal penalties.

  2. Education and compliance assistance on Davis-Bacon is offered by the Wage and Hour Division. The Wage and Hour Division offers compliance and educational materials on their website and at their toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). For more information about the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts visit Government Contracts Toolkit.

We welcome comments from all stakeholders, and review and consider every timely comment. The comment period for the Davis-Bacon Notice of Proposed Rulemaking remains open until May 17, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Comments must be completed and submitted prior to the deadline.

Here’s how:

The easiest way to submit a comment is online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. Detailed instructions are provided and information about attaching items to your comment is found at www.regulations.gov/faq in the commenting section.

Remember, comments are public information…

You should expect that the comment will become a matter of public record and will be posted without change to www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

We encourage employers, workers, unions and other stakeholders to review current Davis-Bacon regulations and the proposed rulemaking and to share their thoughts, data and experiences.

Jessica Looman is the acting administrator for the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. Follow the agency on Twitter: @WHD_DOL.

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