Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Information
The Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Law for public works projects G.L. c. 149, §§ 26 - 27 ("The Prevailing Wage Law") establishes minimum wage rates for workers on public construction projects. “Public works” projects includes new construction, renovation, repair, demolition, road or highway work, the rental of equipment, moving office furniture, cleaning state office buildings, trash hauling, and school bus transportation.
Prevailing wages must be paid to all employees on public works projects regardless of whether they are employed by the general contractor, a filed sub-bidder, or any sub-contractor. The prevailing wage applies equally to unionized and non-unionized workers.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, Department of Labor Standards (DLS) is the agency responsible for issuing prevailing wage rate sheets and administering the Prevailing Wage Law. The Massachusetts Attorney General's Fair Labor Division is responsible for enforcing the law.
In Massachusetts, the Director of Labor Standards determines the prevailing wage rates. These rates are based on wage rates and working hours that have been established by CBAs or understanding between organized labor and employers in the painting and binding industry. The Director prepares and furnishes a list of several classifications of labor usually performed by the employees in the painting and binding trades with the prevailing rate of wages and working hours.
Massachusetts prevailing wage law has no dollar threshold requirement; the prevailing wage law applies to all public works projects, regardless of the cost or size of the project.
TIMINING OF WAGE DETERMINATIONS
Once a wage schedule has been issued for a project by DLS, it will remain in effect for the entire project, except in the case of multi-year projects. For projects lasting more than one year, contractors must obtain updated wage rate schedules from the awarding authority. Appeals of wage determinations/classifications of employment may be made directly to the DLS Commissioner.
Under Massachusetts prevailing wage law, for projects lasting more than one year, contractors must obtain updated wage rate schedules from the awarding authority. All wage increases listed on the schedule, if any, must be paid on the specified dates.
Payments by employers to health and welfare plans, pension plans and supplemental unemployment benefit plans under collective bargaining agreements or understandings between organized labor and employers are included in the wage rates. G.L. c. 149, §§ 26 and 27. Employers are limited in the deductions that may be made from the hourly rate (represented as the “total rate” on the wage schedules). Only contributions to the following plans may be deducted:
1) Health and Welfare
3) Supplemental Unemployment
All contributions must be made to bona fide plans. If an employer contributes to any, or all, of the above plans, it may deduct the hourly amount contributed from the “total rate.” If the employer does not contribute to any of the benefit plans listed above, then the employee’s hourly rate of pay will be the “total rate” from the wage schedule.
All other deductions, including but not limited to any of the following, may not be subtracted from the employee’s hourly prevailing wage rate:
1) Vacation Time
2) Sick Time
3) Training Funds
4) Charitable Contributions
5) Workers’ Compensation
6) Unemployment Insurance
Any “separate check” given to an employee as the “benefit portion” of the prevailing wage may not be treated differently than the check for “base wages.”
All “separate checks” are considered wages and subject to state and federal taxes, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation requirements.
Any agreement or requisition issued/entered into by an awarding authority that requires the use of a vehicle/equipment for public works purposes must contain a stipulation that prevailing wages must be paid to the operators of such vehicles/equipment. The awarding authority must obtain a prevailing wage sheet from DLS. DLS has standardized forms that awarding authorities must use to request a rate sheet. Awarding authorities must complete an online prevailing wage request form at www.mass.gov/dols/pw. If the awarding authority foes not have access to the Internet, the awarding authority must call DLS at (617) 626-2953 to receive instructions on mailing a hard copy request form. Once the awarding authority receives the prevailing wage sheet, it must include the rate sheet in the agreement/requisition.
The Massachusetts Overtime Law, M.G.L. c. 151, §1A, requires time and one-half base rate (“total rate” less benefits, if any) for all covered workers when their hours exceed 40 hours in a given workweek. This law is equally applicable to employees working in jobs subject to the prevailing wage; there is no separate overtime provision within the state prevailing wage law.
Please note, when calculating overtime for public works projects, the regular hourly rate on which to base overtime is the “base” rate of pay, which means total prevailing wage minus any allowable deductions actually contributed by the employer.
WORKING ON THE WEEKEND
Massachusetts overtime law applies to work performed on the weekend. The Massachusetts prevailing wage law does not include a separate provision for different payment per trade for working on the weekend.
WORKING ON LEGAL HOLIDAYS
Massachusetts prevailing wage does not include a provision for compensating employees for working on legal holidays. The employer has discretion about whether he wants to pay his employees for working on legal holidays.
Massachusetts prevailing wage law does not contain a provision stating employees should receive different wage rates for working different shifts throughout the day.
Training funds qualifies as a deduction and may not be subtracted from the employee’s hourly prevailing wage rate (total rate from wage schedule). Thus, Massachusetts does not require training contribution. Please See, “Fringe Benefits” section below.
Apprentices can be used if the contractor is participating in an apprenticeship program which is approved by the Division of Apprenticeship Training, and the apprentices are registered with the Division. Any unregistered apprentice must be paid a the journeymen’s wage rate as set forth on the wage schedule. Payment of the apprentice wage rate to unregistered apprentices may subject your company to potential civil and criminal liability. The maximum ratio of apprentices to journeymen is supplied by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development when the prevailing wage rates are issues.
Questions regarding apprenticeship programs should be directed to the Division of Apprentice Training, at (617) 626-5409.
TRAVEL & SUBSISTENCE
Massachusetts prevailing wage law does not compensate employees for travel and subsistence.
Please call, (617) 626-6976 for additional information regarding travel.
In Massachusetts, anyone that supervises construction work/demolition (even a crew of 1) is required to obtain a license. The Division of Capital Asset Management certifies contractors who work on public building projects. This division may be reached at: (617) 727-4053.
Search for a Home Improvement Contractor holds a License in Massachusetts
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Massachusetts's Contractor Licensing Policy
DUTIES OF CONTRACTORS/SUBCONTRACTORS
Certified payroll reports
All contractors and sub-contractors are required to file certified payroll records directly with the awarding authority on a weekly basis and keep them on file for three years. These records must contain accurate information detailing each employee's name, address, occupational classification, hours worked and wages paid. The records must be certified and signed by the contractor or agent under the pains and penalties of perjury. It is the contractor's responsibility to submit payroll records to the awarding authority by first class mail or by electronic mail. After each contractor completes its portion of the public works project, the contractor must submit a Statement of Compliance directly to the awarding authority. A Statement of Compliance form is also sent along with each wage schedule issued. Failure to submit certified weekly payroll records and statements of compliance may result in fines of up to $10,000 per occurrence.
Posting wage rates and payment of wages
General Contractors must obtain these updated schedules from awarding authorities, and general and sub-contractors must pay no less than these rates to covered workers. Updated schedules must also be posted in a conspicuous place at the worksite during the life of the contract. Failure to comply with the prevailing wage law may result in civil or criminal penalties and/or sanctions under M.G.L. c. 149, §27C.
A wage schedule issued for another project may not be used on any other project. If an awarding authority fails to provide the contractor with a wage schedule, the contractor may not use one you may have from another project. Rather, the contractor should contact DLS immediately, and urge the awarding authority to contact DLS to correct the oversight prior to the bid opening. The failure of an awarding authority to provide a wage schedule does not excuse a contractor from paying the prevailing rate.
Non-compliance with the law may result in a cease work order and subjects the contractor to potential civil and criminal liability. The awarding authority may also, under certain circumstances, be subject to civil liability.
Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Law Section 27C(a)(1) states the penalty for willful violations of the law:
Any employer, contractor or subcontractor, or any officer, agent, superintendent, foreman, or employee thereof, or staffing agency or work site employer who willfully violates any provision of section 26, 27, 27A, 27B, 27F, 27G, 27H, 148, 148A, 148B or 159C or section 1A, 1B or 19 of chapter 151, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $25,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year for a first offense, or by both such fine and imprisonment and for a subsequent willful offense a fine of not more than $50,000, or by imprisonment for not more than two years, or by both such fine and such imprisonment.
Moreover, the penalty for a non-willful violation is as follows (27C(a)(2)):
Any employer, contractor or subcontractor, or any officer, agent, superintendent, foreman or employee thereof, or staffing agency or work site employer who without a willful intent to do so, violates any provision of section 26, 27, 27A, 27B, 27F, 27G, 27H, 148, 148A, 148B or 159C or section 1A, 1B or 19 of chapter 151, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000, or by imprisonment for not more than six months for a first offense, and for a subsequent offense by a fine of not more than $25,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or by both such fine and such imprisonment. A complaint or indictment hereunder or under the provisions of the first paragraph may be sought either in the county where the work was performed or in the county where the employer, contractor, or subcontractor has a principal place of business. In the case of an employer, contractor, or subcontractor who has his principal place of business outside the commonwealth, a complaint or indictment may be sought either in the county where the work was performed or in Suffolk county.
For additional information on penalties for violating the Massachusetts prevailing wage law, please visit the following site: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXXI/Chapter149/Section27C
A contractor/subcontractor/other employer engaged in any work that applies to the prevailing wage act and is convicted of a second violation of any provision of the act is debarred for a period of two years from the date of the said conviction.
Please See “Helpful Links” below for a list of debarred contractors.
Prevailing wage statutes
Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Law-An Important Guide For Contractors on Public Works Projects
Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Law-An important Guide For Awarding Authorities
Prevailing Wage Index
Prevailing wage opinion letters
Prevailing wage notices
Housing Authority Position Request Form
Payroll Statement of compliance
Payroll Record Form
Annual update request
Re-print of previously issued wage schedule
Register as a requester
Debarment List I
Debarment List II
Wage schedules are issued by:
Department of Labor Standards
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
19 Staniford Street, 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Wage laws are enforced by:
Office of the Attorney General
Fair Labor Division
100 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA 02202
List of other important contacts: http://www.mass.gov/lwd/contacts.html