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DOL Releases Conformance Request Guide

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division recently published a new guide aimed at assisting construction contractors and other industry stakeholders in understanding the process of seeking conformance under the Davis-Bacon Act.

The Davis-Bacon Wage Determination Conformance Request Guide was published on Sept. 28.

About Davis-Bacon & Related Acts

According to the DOL, the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) require payment of local prevailing wages to construction workers performing work on federally funded construction projects. The prevailing wage is a combination of the basic hourly wage rate and any fringe benefits rates listed for a specific classification determined by the DBA.

Ed Brown, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Labor’ Wage and Hour Division recently published a new guide aimed at assisting construction contractors and other industry stakeholders in understanding the process of seeking conformance under the Davis-Bacon Act.

Wage Determinations are issued for four types of construction categories:

  • Building Construction includes the construction, alteration or repair of sheltered enclosures with walk-in access for the purpose of housing persons, machinery, equipment or supplies and the associated installation of utilities and equipment, as well as incidental grading and paving;
  • Residential Construction includes the construction, alteration or repair of single family houses, townhouses and apartment buildings of no more than four stories in height and all incidental work, such as site work, parking areas, utilities, streets and sidewalks;
  • Highway Construction includes the construction, alteration or repair of roads, streets, highways, runways, parking areas and most other paving work not incidental to building, residential or heavy construction; and
  • Heavy Construction includes projects that cannot be classified as Building, Residential or Highway. Heavy construction is often further distinguished on the basis of the characteristic of particular projects, such as dredging, water and sewer lines, dams, major bridges and flood control projects.

The DBA applies to each federal government or District of Columbia contract in excess of $2,000 for the construction, alteration or repair (including painting and decorating) of public buildings or public works and requires that contractors and subcontractors pay their laborers and mechanics employed under such contracts no less than the locally prevailing wages and fringe benefits for corresponding work on similar projects in the area.

The prevailing wage provisions also apply to “Related Acts,” meaning when a federal agency assists construction projects through grants, loans, loan guarantees and insurance.

In addition to providing a general overview of the DBA and Related Acts, including prevailing wage and the agency’s wage determination process, the guide details how contractors and contracting agencies may seek a conformance, which is a request for a new class of laborer or mechanic to be added to a published wage determination for a specific contract.

The agency also provides examples of when contractors do or do not need to seek a conformance. When requesting a conformance, contractors must use Form SF-1444.

Recent Wage News

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to increase the minimum wage for federal contractors. The proposal would require federal contractors to pay workers at least $15 an hour by 2022 and looks to enforce another recent executive order.

In addition to raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers by $4.05 an hour (the current rate is $10.95), the rule also looks to eliminate subminimum wage rates for federal contract workers with disabilities and workers who customarily receive tips.

Although the prior rule applied only to new and renewed federal contracts, the new proposal would apply the $15 minimum wage to existing contracts when agencies opt to purchase additional supplies or services. As specified in the proposed rule, the DOL defines applicable contracts as “all contracts and any subcontracts of any tier thereunder, whether negotiated or advertised, including any procurement actions, lease agreements, cooperative agreements, provider agreements, intergovernmental service agreements, service agreements, licenses, permits or any other type of agreement, regardless of nomenclature, type or particular form, and whether entered into verbally or in writing.”

The DOL further specifies that eligible workers include apprentices.

The executive order directs the Secretary to issue regulations by Nov. 24, consistent with applicable law, to implement the order’s requirements. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on July 22. The comment period for the proposed rulemaking reportedly closed on Aug. 27.

Around that same time, the DOL also looked at the current overtime threshold under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh reportedly noted at the time that the current threshold, which is just under $36,000 and was finalized in 2019, is “definitely” too low. Reportedly, the department will include in its review whether regular, automatic updates to the threshold are necessary, which Walsh supports.

   

Tagged categories: Business matters; Commercial contractors; Contractors; Department of Labor; Economy; General contractors; Good Technical Practice; Government; Government contracts; Industrial Contractors; Labor; NA; North America; Painting Contractors; Program/Project Management; Regulations; Residential contractors; Roofing contractors

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