Labor Compliance Frequently Asked Questions
- Question: What is Prevailing Wage?
Answer: The prevailing wage is a base pay rate established by State and Federal law to ensure that all construction workers engaged in public works projects are paid adequately for the craft they are working in. It is a combination of an hourly pay rate plus fringe benefits. Payment of the prevailing wage ensures that contractors will hire qualified workers and the City will therefore receive quality work.
- Question: How does the Office of Contract Compliance assist contractors?
Answer: By providing quick and easy access to accurate information, the OCC helps to ensure that contractors avoid making mistakes. The emphasis of the Labor Compliance Section is on providing education, assistance and direction to contractors doing work for the City. The OCC offers seminars upon request, custom-designed to address issues of interest to individuals or groups of contractors who work on City public works projects.
On the second Monday of each month the OCC offers a free class dealing with prevailing wages, certified payrolls and apprenticeship requirements.
The OCC helps to "level the playing field" by ensuring that all contractors are paying correct rates and "playing by the same rules". Contractors who would hope to gain advantage by underpaying their own workers face stiff penalties.
Contractors can also receive updates and improved access to Federal and State labor laws through OCC.
- Question: Who is subject to receiving prevailing wages?
Answer: All construction personnel who actually work on a project are required to receive prevailing wages. Professional or support personnel such as architects, clerical staff or security guards are not subject to prevailing wages. Bona fide material suppliers who deliver materials to a job site are not subject to payment of prevailing wages. However if they then begin to help with the construction/installation, they are covered from that point forward. If you are uncertain as to whether someone should receive prevailing wages, call the Labor Compliance Section at (213) 847-2662.
- Question: How can I find the current Prevailing Wage Rates?
Answer: The State of California's Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) determines the state's prevailing wage rates. The rates are generally revised twice each year. The OCC provides these, free of charge, to any contractors interested in doing business with the City. The DIR maintains a web site at https://www.dir.ca.gov which has the latest rates and other valuable information. Federal rates are published intermittently by Federal Department of Labor. These rates may be found on the Department of Labor web site at https://www.dol.gov
- Question: What is the proper classification for a contractor's workers?
Answer: The proper classification depends upon the scope of work being done and the specifications called for by the awarding body. If a contractor is uncertain as to how to classify a worker(s), they should call the Labor Compliance section at (213) 847-2662.
- Question: Must a contractor join a union in order to work on City of Los Angeles Public Works projects?
Answer: No. Contractors do not have to join a union in order to work on City projects. However, they must comply with the terms of the contract, including the payment of prevailing wages.
- Question: What about apprentices?
Answer: State law requires that apprentices be employed on all public works projects. If no apprentices are available, or if the work is not in an apprenticeable craft, proper documentation must be submitted to indicate this. All apprentices must be in a State approved program and must be in proper ratio to the number of journeymen present. If the project has any federal funding, any apprentices must be in a federally approved program.
- Question: What is the proper ratio of apprentices to journeymen?
Answer: The apprentice ratio varies depending on the craft of the workers. Contractors may contact the Department of Industrial Relations Division of Apprenticeship Standards or the Labor Compliance Section for clarification.
- Question: What about Certified Payrolls?
Answer: Certified Payrolls provide a true and accurate record of the labor hours worked on a project. They are signed under penalty of perjury and are due weekly from the prime contractor and ALL subcontractors, owner-operators, vendors and suppliers who provide personnel to work at the job site. Prime contractors are responsible for ensuring that ALL subcontractors, etc. submit the required payroll documents.