Prevailing Wage on Public Work Jobs

The state has a policy of ensuring workers are compensated with certain minimum, “Prevailing Wages” for various public projects. Prevailing Wage is dependent on the job duties performed and the project location.

What Constitutes Public Work ?

Prevailing Wage Compliance is a major component of construction work that must be carefully considered when planning and executing a successful public work job.  According to the New York State Department of Labor (DOL), for a job to be considered “public work” it must meet three requirements:

  • First, a public agency must be a party to a contract involving the employment of laborers, workmen, or mechanics.
  • Second, the contract must concern a project that primarily involves construction-like labor and is paid for by public funds.
  • Third, the primary objective or function of the work product must be the use or other benefit of the general public.


Department of Labor (DOL) Prevailing Wage for Construction Projects

Construction work falls under the guidelines of DOL Article 8, one of two public work categories; DOL Article 9 covers building maintenance-type work such as janitorial services.

DOL Prevailing Wage regulations set effective minimum hourly wages for all workers.  These wages are agreed to through collective bargaining and are revised and reissued yearly.  Minimum wages for a worker are specific to the task he or she performs on a given job.  For example, on the current Prevailing Wage schedule for Nassau County, an electrician working on fire alarm systems must be paid a minimum of $51.50 per hour in wages and receive supplemental benefits (per hour) totaling at least $24.96 plus 16% of the hourly wage paid.  Different tasks such as carpentry and masonry carry their own, unique rates.

How Can a Construction Manager Ensure Workers Receive Fair Compensation?

A critical task for a construction manager on a public work job is to ensure that all workers are being paid in compliance with the Prevailing Wage regulations depending on the task and hours onsite.  A construction manager should log:

  • the first and last names of all workers,
  • how many hours each worker was onsite,
  • and what task each worker was performing that day.

When a contracting company (working either directly for the client or the construction manager) submits their payment claim, the construction manager must carefully review all certified payroll documentation to ensure that all workers are receiving at least the minimum compensation they are entitled to under Prevailing Wage based on Walden’s field records.

For more information on the responsibilities of a construction manager check out What Does Good Construction Management Look Like? 4 Steps to Use on Any Project.

Why Worry about Prevailing Wage?

Alongside ethical reasons (workers should get paid the deserved amount regardless of circumstances), ensuring that contracting companies comply with Prevailing Wage regulations is good business practice for another major reason: the prospect of serious legal action.  If an employee or group of employees feels that it has not been paid the proper wage, not only can the employer be sued, but everyone involved on the job up through the client itself may be included in the lawsuit.  This can not only cost the client a significant amount of money in legal fees, but also is potential bad press that can haunt the client for years to come.

Competent, Qualified Construction Managers and Engineers

Walden has a team of experienced construction managers who have expertise in making sure jobs go smoothly from start to finish, with a long history of being a strong advocate for our clients when it comes to DOL compliance. Please call (516) 624-7200, (518) 698-3012, or (845) 745-0888 to learn how we can help you with your next construction job. And check out our other environmental services to see how Walden can help you.