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The Davis-Bacon Act, passed in l931, was the first federal wage law
to provide prevailing wage protection to non-government workers. It
requires the payment of prevailing wages and fringe benefits to
laborers and mechanics employed by contractors and subcontractors
engaged in federal construction projects.
The act covers all contracts over $2,000 which call for the
construction, alteration and/or repair, including painting and
decorating, of public buildings or public works, as well as other
construction work financed from federal funds under statutes
containing Davis-Bacon provisions. All covered contracts must
contain a wage determination issued by the Secretary of Labor.
Types of covered work include construction of federal buildings,
dams, highways, subways, sewer treatment plants and airports.
Covered workers include all laborers and mechanics whose duties are
manual or physical in nature as distinguished from mental,
managerial, administrative, or clerical.
Apprentices and trainees may receive less than the applicable rate on
the wage determination when individually registered in a bona fide
program registered with the Department of Labor's Employment and
Training Administration, Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, or in
the case of apprentices, with a state apprenticeship agency
recognized by the Bureau.
Prevailing Wage Rate
This is the rate of wages and fringe benefits paid to a majority
(i.e., more than 50%) of workers in the classification on similar
construction jobs in the area, or where there is no majority, the
average wage rate paid.
"Building" and "residential" wage deter- minations for construction
normally are based on data from similar privately financed
construction in the area, and would not include wages paid on other
Davis-Bacon projects unless there are insufficient data from similar
private construction projects.
Wage data from both private and Davis-Bacon projects are used in
making wage determinations for heavy and highway construction
Wage data from metropolitan areas are not used in making wage
determinations for rural areas, and vice versa.
Under the Contract Work Hours and Safety Act, payment of not less
than one and one-half times the basic rate of pay for all hours
worked over 40 in a workweek is required on federal projects.
In case of violation:
-- the contracting agency can withhold sufficient funds to compensate
-- a contractor can be debarred for violations for a three-year
For more information... Contact the nearest office of the Wage and
Hour Division office, listed in most telephone directories under U.S.
Government, Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration.
This is one of a series of fact sheets highlighting U.S. Department
of Labor Programs. It is intended as a general description only and
does not carry the force of legal opinion.
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