Employees working for contractors or sub-contractors on any project which relies in whole or in part on federal or state funds (on ‘public works projects’) must, in most cases, be paid prevailing wages. Prevailing wages are typically higher than employees’ regular ‘straight time’ pay rates, so the failure to pay such rates, combined with the failure to pay all overtime owed can create significant liability for contractors or sub-contractors.
Certain exceptions to prevailing wages can apply. For example, ‘suppliers’ – employees of companies transporting the materials needed for public works construction or renovation projects – may not fall under the scope of prevailing wage law, since such employees may be performing work which is only incidental to the actual construction or renovation work.
Sometimes, however, work which may be a combination of transporting materials and participating in the construction or renovation work can still qualify as work for which prevailing wages must be provided. For example, work aboard tugboats which haul materials for public works bridge construction or renovation projects, but which also are integrated within the construction or renovation work (because, for example, such tugboats have to hold cranes in place) qualifies as prevailing wage work.
If you are an employee OR an employer with specific questions regarding prevailing wages, contact the Northern California based wage and hour experts at Goyette & Associates.