Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Notifying Contractors of Prevailing Wage Requirements

In developing public works bidding documents, public agencies should clearly communicate when the project is subject to prevailing wage requirements.  This is important for the bidders so they can develop their bid price accordingly.

State prevailing wages:  In Washington state, public agencies have a choice of the following methods for communicating the applicable prevailing wages to bidders:
  • Include only applicable classifications:  Publish only the classifications and wages applicable for a specific project.  It is important to be accurate and complete on what classifications might be used on the project.
  • Reference website:  Reference the state's prevailing wages in the bidding documents by referring bidders to the state's website and including the following additional paragraph:
The State of Washington prevailing wage rates applicable for this public works project, which is located in ________ County, may be found at the following website address of the Department of Labor and Industries:   Based on the bid submittal deadline for this project, the applicable effective date for prevailing wages for this project is _____________. A copy of the applicable prevailing wage rates are also available for viewing at the office of the Owner, located at _____________________.  Upon request, the Owner will mail a hard copy of the applicable prevailing wages for this project.
Federally funded projects:  If the project is funded in whole or in part with federal funds, the following practices should be implemented:
  • Federal prevailing wages:  The appropriate and complete federal wage determination must be included in the bidding documents.  The U.S. Department of Labor publishes prevailing wage determinations for the following types of work:  Heavy, Highway, Building, and Residential.  Federal prevailing wages may be obtained at the following website:  
  • State prevailing wages:  Even though the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries authorizes only referencing their website with the wages, I think the best practice is to include the complete state prevailing wage listing in the bidding documents on federally funded projects.
State vs. Federal wages?  Make your bidding documents clear that, in the event of differences between the state and federal prevailing wages on a federally funded project, the contractor will be required to pay the higher wage between state and federal wages.

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

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