On March 11, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed rule to update certain provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act and other related laws that regulate wage rates for federal and federally assisted construction projects.
The Davis-Bacon and Related Acts apply to contractors and subcontractors performing on federally funded or assisted contracts in excess of $2,000 for the construction, alteration, or repair (including painting and decorating) of public buildings or public works. Under the Davis-Bacon Act contractors and subcontractors must pay their laborers and mechanics employed under the contract no less than the locally prevailing wages and fringe benefits for corresponding work on similar projects in the area. The Davis-Bacon Act directs the US Department of Labor (DOL) to determine the local prevailing wage rates.
The Davis-Bacon Act applies to contractors and subcontractors performing work on federal or District of Columbia contracts. The Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wage provisions also applies to the “Related Acts,” under which federal agencies assist construction projects through grants, loans, loan guarantees and insurance.
The updates seek to modernize wage determinations and regulatory language to reflect current construction practices. Proposed changes include:
- Updating the prevailing wage update system and ensuring prevailing wage rates keep up with actual wages;
- Returning to the definition of “prevailing wage” used from 1935 to 1983;
- Periodically updating prevailing wage rates to address out-of-date wage determinations;
- Providing broader authority to adopt state or local wage determinations;
- Issuing supplemental rates for key job classifications when no survey data exists;
- Updating the regulatory language to better reflect modern construction practices; and
- Strengthening worker protections and enforcement, including debarment and anti-retaliation.
Next Steps for Employers
As required by the rule-making process, the DOL is inviting public comments on the proposed changes. The Department encourages interested parties to submit comments on this proposal by May 17, 2022. Anyone who submits a comment (including duplicate comments) should understand and expect that the comment, including any personal information provided, will become a matter of public record and will be posted without change to www.regulations.gov.
HR Works will continue to monitor this topic and provide updated information as needed.