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The Davis-Bacon & Related Acts Explained


The Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) are a collection of laws that require payment of prevailing wages on federally funded and/or federally assisted construction projects. The Davis-Bacon Act applies to each federal government or District of Columbia contract for the construction, alteration, or repair of public buildings and/or public works that exceed $2,000.

“Related Acts,” refers to the federal laws that authorize federal assistance for construction in the form of grants, loans, loan guarantees, and/or insurance.

These include provisions that require the standards under the Davis-Bacon Act to apply to most federal assisted construction projects. Examples of “Related Acts” include but are not limited to:

  • The Federal-Aid Highway Acts
  • The Housing and Community Development Act of 1974
  • The Federal Water Pollution Control Act

What Is a “Prevailing Wage?”

Under the Davis-Bacon Act, the “prevailing wage” is a combination of the basic hourly rate and any fringe benefits listed in the Act’s wage determination. This obligation can be met by paying each laborer and mechanic the applicable prevailing wage as cash wages or via a combination of cash wages and employer-provided bona fide fringe benefits. This must be paid on all hours worked on the project site. Contractors and subcontractors must also pay covered workers weekly and submit weekly certified payroll records to the contracting agency.

DBRA Requirements

According to the Davis Bacon-Act, the labor standards clauses therein must be included in covered contracts. Additionally, contractors and subcontractors are required to pay laborers and mechanics, who are employed directly at the project site, at least the locally prevailing wages, including fringe benefits, listed in the Davis-Bacon wage determination in the contract.

Common DBRA Violations

Common problems that arise under the DBRA include but are not limited to:

  • Misclassifying laborers and mechanics
  • Failing to pay the full prevailing wage, including fringe benefits, for all hours worked and overtime
  • Inadequate recordkeeping
  • Failing to maintain a copy of bona fide apprenticeship program and individual registration documents for apprentices
  • Failing to submit certified payrolls weekly
  • Failing to pose the Davis-Bacon poster and applicable wage determination

If you feel your employment rights under the DBRA have been violated, or if you have any other questions regarding your employment rights, please reach out to the experienced Birmingham employment law attorneys at Michel | King. You can contact us today either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880. We are here to serve you.

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