Frequently Asked Questions
about Prevailing Wage
on each question to show the answer
- 1. How does a contractor know what type of construction project is considered a RI Prevailing Wage project?
- In Rhode Island Prevailing Wage applies to any public work consisting of grading, cleaning, demolishing, improvement, completion, repair, alteration or construction of any public road or any bridge or portion thereof or any heavy construction or any public works projects of any nature or kind whatsoever.
- 2. If a contractor bids on a RI Public Works construction project that will be using public funds under the amount of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00), do prevailing wages have to be paid?
- No, Prevailing Wage only applies to RI Public works projects that are in the amount of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) or more of public funds. However, if the contractor submits two or more services before the completion of the project and the monies accumulate to or exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) of public funds, prevailing wages must be paid. If the overall cost of the project consists of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) or more of public funds, a subcontractor must pay its employees the prevailing wage even if the contract between the general contractor and subcontractor is less than a $1,000.
- 3. Are Awarding Authorities required to retain RI Certified Weekly Payroll forms from contractors working on Prevailing Wage projects?
- Yes, RIGL 37-13-13 requires every contractor and subcontractor awarded a contract for public works to submit completed RI Certified Weekly Payroll forms listing employees employed on the project to the awarding authority on a monthly basis for all work completed in the preceding month. Awarding authorities, contractors and subcontractors shall provide any and all payroll records to the DLT within ten (10) days of any request that is made by the department.
Is a contract required on all Prevailing Wage projects?
- All prevailing wage work must be done by written contract. This is true for both the contract between the awarding authority and the general contractor and the general contractor and subcontractor and between subcontractors.
What are the laws and regulations that apply to RI Prevailing Wage contracts?
- Contractors working on RI Public Works construction projects must comply with R.I.G.L. 37-13 (www.dlt.ri.gov/pw/PWlaws.htm), RI Prevailing Wage Rules and Regulations (www.dlt.ri.gov/pw/pwFormsPubs.htm), and the related Davis Bacon acts.
Does the State make routine on site inspections?
- Yes, state investigators conduct routine investigations on RI Prevailing Wage jobsites to verify that the proper prevailing wage rates are being paid to employees working on the project. Investigators also check to make sure that contractors comply with the prevailing wage poster requirements at RIGL 37-13-11 and the Daily Log requirement at RIGL 37-13-13.
What is the RI Certified Weekly Wage Daily log and when is it required?
- On a daily basis, every contractor and subcontractor shall maintain on the site where public works are being constructed and the general or primary contract is one million dollars ($1,000,000) or more, a Rhode Island Certified Prevailing Wage Daily log of employees employed each day on that public works project by the contractor or subcontractor. This form may be found at: www.dlt.ri.gov/pw/pwFormsPubs.htm. This log shall be available for inspection on the site at all times by the awarding authority and/or the DLT. This requirement does not apply to road, highway, or bridge public works projects.
Where can a contractor find the applicable Prevailing Wage cost per hour for the various trades that will be used when making a bid on a RI Public Works project?
- The contractor must refer to the applicable Davis Bacon Wage Determination rate schedule that can be found on the Federal Department of Labor and Training website at www.wdol.gov/dba.aspx#0. *Note: Previous Davis Bacon rate schedules may be found at www.wdol.gov/archdba.aspx.
How does a contractor know which rate schedule to use on a RI Prevailing Wage project?
- The prevailing wage rates to be applied are those that are effective as of the date of the awarding of the contract to the general contractor. Contractors working on RI Prevailing Wage projects must also adjust employees’ hourly rates (if applicable) every July 1st in accordance with any updated Davis Bacon Wage Determination rates.
How do contractors know what to classify their workers on a RI Prevailing Wage job site?
- Contractors must refer to the applicable Davis Bacon Prevailing Wage rate schedule to find the classification that coincides with the specific type of work being performed on the jobsite. If the classification of the work being performed on the jobsite is not listed in the Davis Bacon Prevailing Wage rate schedule, contracting officers may request an authorization of additional classification and rate from the US Department of Labor. For instructions on how to do so, you may go to the US DOL website, www.wdol.gov, click on library and then the Conformance Section for instructions and additional information.
Where does the RI Prevailing Rate schedule originate from?
- Rhode Island adopts the Davis Bacon Wage Determinations from the US Department of Labor for all prevailing wage projects conducted in the state.
- 12. Do wage rates change every year?
- The prevailing wage rates for the various trades may change at times throughout the year. Contractors must check the Davis Bacon website, www.wdol.gov/dba.aspx#0 for the rate that is applicable to the prevailing wage project they are working on.
Should the base rate and the fringe rate be added together to define the cost of the prevailing wage rate per hour?
- The base rate and fringe rate must be added together to determine the total prevailing wage hourly rate. An employer may deduct bona fide fringe benefit credits from that rate. If there are no bona fide fringe benefits given, the employer must pay the full amount (the base rate plus the fringe benefit amount) in the hourly pay rate.
- 14.How do contractors calculate the hourly deduction or credit a contractor may take for the cost of bona fide fringe benefits that the company pays for an employee?
- In order to compute hourly fringe benefit credits, you may take the employers’ total cost of bona fide fringe benefits provided on an annual basis and divide that number by 2080 (40 hours x 52 weeks) or by actual hours worked (must be documented).
EXAMPLE: EMPLOYER PAYS 100% MEDICAL INSURANCE PREMIUM:
Monthly premium employer pays on behalf of employee: $350
Annual Cost to employer: ($350 x 12 months) = $4,200
Fringe Benefit Credit: (Divide by 2080): $2.02/hour ($4,200/2080)
Sample Prevailing Wage rate: $20.00 base
Sample Fringe Benefit: + 10.00 fringe
Total hourly wage due: $30.00
Applicable Prevailing Wage Rate: $30.00
Fringe Benefit Credit: -2.02
Adjusted prevailing wage rate owed: $27.98
*Note: Fringe Benefit Credits will be applied by subtracting the fringe benefit credit amount from the applicable benefit rate on the prevailing wage rate schedule; any difference remaining after the value of all benefits provided is deducted must be paid hourly as taxable wages in the employee’s pay check .
What are examples of bona fide fringe benefits that a company may use in the fringe benefit calculation?
These benefits may include medical or hospital coverage, life insurance, disability insurance (not workers’ compensation), pension, 401k, apprentice costs (books, tuition) or holiday, sick, vacation/personal time. State mandated unemployment insurance, travel, gas reimbursement, company vehicle, uniforms and discretionary bonuses are not bona-fide fringe benefits. In addition, in order for the plan to be acceptable, the following stipulations must be met:
- Contributions must be irrevocable and for the employee’s benefit;
- Contributions must be made regularly and at least on a quarterly basis;
- Contributions must not be required by law (i.e.: taxes, workers’ compensation, social security, etc.);
- Contributions made for fringe benefit plans for prevailing wage work may not be used to fund the plan for periods of non-prevailing wage work;
- The amount of contributions for fringe benefits must be paid irrevocably to a trustee or third party;
If the fringe benefits are anticipated to be paid from general assets of the contractor (ex. holidays, sick and vacation days, profit sharing, etc.), the contractor must set aside, in an escrow account, the amount of money the contractor plans to claim as a fringe benefit credit for the prevailing wage project. For example, if a contractor wants to claim credit for 10 paid holidays per year, the contractor must calculate the amount that will be paid (10 holidays x 8 hours x $10/hour = $800) and place those funds in an escrow account. In the event that an employee leaves the company before the end of the calendar year and prior to the completion of the project, any remaining escrowed funds must be paid to the employee.
*Note: The allowable hourly credit must be determined separately and documented for each employee since the credit is based on figures that will usually vary for each individual, depending on their benefit contribution amount, type of benefits, hours worked, etc. In addition, only the employer’s contribution toward a benefit may be used to calculate the allowable hourly credit.
- 16. What forms are required on RI Prevailing Wage jobs?
- All contractors and sub-contractors are required to use the Rhode Island Certified Weekly Payroll forms and the RI Statement of Compliance found at www.dlt.ri.gov/pw/pwFormsPubs.htm. Use of company payroll forms or other state (MA, CT, etc.) forms is not acceptable. Federal forms may be used for Department of Transportation projects only. However, when a complaint is being investigated by the R.I. Dept. of Labor and Training (DLT), the department will require the contractor under investigation to resubmit the requested payroll information on the Rhode Island Certified Weekly Payroll form for all hours worked on that Department of Transportation project being investigated.
Does it matter if I am a union or non-union contractor working on a Public works project?
- No, Prevailing Wage laws apply to all contractors regardless of any union affiliation.
Does Prevailing Wage apply to sub-contractors working on a public works project?
- Yes, Subcontractors working on site on a RI Public Works project must comply with all applicable rates, laws, rules and regulations.
When does overtime apply on a RI Public Works project?
- A contractor or subcontractor must pay employees overtime when they work over eight (8) hours in one day or over forty (40) hours in one week (whichever comes first).
How is the overtime rate calculated on a Public Works project?
- The overtime is calculated on the base rate only and then the fringe benefit rate is added to that adjusted figure.
(SAMPLE ONLY OF OVERTIME CALCULATION) USE PROPER RATES
Base rate: $30.00
Fringe Benefit: 15.00
To calculate the Overtime Rate: $30.00 x 1.5 = $45.00
Plus Fringe Benefit + 15.00
Hourly Overtime Rate $60.00.
Can a company pay their employees bi-monthly on a Public Works project?
- Employees working on RI prevailing wage projects must be paid on a weekly basis.
- 22. When the company owner works on the job-site, does he/she need to be listed on the Certified Weekly Payroll form?
- Yes, an owner performing trade work on a RI Prevailing Wage jobsite must be listed on the RI Certified Weekly Payroll form.
*Note: The owner’s contact information, work classification, hours worked, etc. must also be included.
- 23. Is there a Supervisor rate for supervisors working on a Prevailing Wage jobsite?
- No, there is not a general supervisor rate. If a supervisor is performing the same trade work as their subordinates, their prevailing wage rate must reflect the trade or trades they are supervising and performing and they must be included on the RI Certified Weekly Payroll form.
If a contractor hires a subcontractor to do work on a RI Prevailing Wage project, should the contractor list that subcontractor on their RI Certified Weekly Payroll form?
- No, only employees of the contractor should be listed on the RI Certified Weekly Payroll forms. Subcontractors must do their own separate RI Certified Weekly Payroll form listing all of their workers working on the Prevailing Wage jobsite.
Is Prevailing Wage required on service and maintenance contracts?
- All service and maintenance contracts with the State of Rhode Island shall comply with the provisions of R.I.G.L. 37-13 where the contract price exceeds $1,000.00 and the work includes alterations, installation, repairs or construction.
*Note: Please refer to the definition section of the Rules and Regulations relating to RI Prevailing Wage (www.dlt.ri.gov/pw/PWlaws.htm) to determine if prevailing wage applies to the specific type of work being performed.
- 26. What is the rate for an Apprentice working on a Public Works project?
- There is not a separate job classification for apprentices. The company and apprentice must be registered with the RI Department of Labor & Training in a bona fide indentured Apprenticeship Program. If so, the company may take a deduction from the base rate (the required fringe rate may not be reduced) of the applicable Prevailing Wage Classification. This must be done in accordance with the percentage scale of the Apprenticeship Agreement between the company and the apprentice that has been registered with the RI Department of Labor and Training. For more information on Apprenticeship, please refer to the following website: www.dlt.ri.gov/apprenticeship.
*Note: Non-indentured apprentices, unregistered apprentices or apprentices working out of ratio will be required to receive the FULL prevailing wage rate
Calculating Prevailing Wage rate for Indentured Apprentices:
(SAMPLE ONLY OF APPRENTICE CALCULATION) USE PROPER RATES
Sample Prevailing wage rate: $40.00 base
Sample Prevailing wage fringe: $10.00 fringe
Apprentice at 50%: Base: $20.00 ($40.00 x 50%)
- 27. What is the ratio for an apprentice working on a RI Public Works project?
- The Apprentice Ratio applied to public works projects in this state shall be that ratio set and adopted by the Rhode Island Apprenticeship Council of the Department of Labor and Training. Additional information may be found at: www.dlt.ri.gov/apprenticeship.
- 28. Are contractors or subcontractors required to employee apprentices on RI State Public Works construction projects?
- Contractors or Subcontractors working on RI State Public Works construction projects must employ apprentices required for the performance of a public works contract awarded by the state when the contract is valued at one million dollars ($1,000,000) or more.
- 29. What can the worker do if they are not receiving proper pay on a RI Prevailing Wage project?
- An employee working on a state or municipally funded Prevailing Wage project who was not paid the proper rate may file a compliant with RI Department of Labor and Training - Professional Regulation Unit; Prevailing Wage Section. The complaint must be within 24 months from the completion of the project. In addition to the complaint form, evidence that the correct prevailing wage was not received must be submitted. If you would like to file a prevailing wage complaint, you may contact the Prevailing Wage Section at (401) 462-8580, option #7 to schedule an appointment.
- 30. Do contractors and subcontractors need to have their workers OSHA-10 certified before working on Public Works construction projects of $100,000.00 or more?
- In accordance with R.I.G.L. 37-23, all employees working on-site on Public Works construction projects with a total cost of one hundred thousand ($100,000) or more must have an OSHA ten-hour certification. A list of potential OSHA-10 trainers can be found www.dlt.ri.gov/profregs/OSHA10hrTrainers.htm.