Monday, November 23, 2009

Comparing Data from Prevailing Wage Worker Interviews with Certified Payrolls

Most federally funded public works projects require the payment of federal prevailing wages and compliance with the Davis-Bacon Act (and related acts).

Federal prevailing wage provisions require the public agency to conduct interviews on the construction site with workers to inquire about how much they are being paid, to observe whether they are working within the classification they are being paid for, and to ask whether they are receiving overtime pay, where required.

The public agency then has the obligation to take the information from the employee interviews and compare it with the information reported by the contractor or subcontractor on their weekly certified payrolls. These payroll reports must be submitted to the public agency who is responsible for reviewing the payrolls to determine if the workers were paid appropriately. Discrepancies between the interviews and payrolls should be investigated further by the public agency.

A recent audit finding by the Washington State Auditor's Office found that King County failed to check the payroll reports even when employee interviews revealed that four subcontractor employees were potentially underpaid the prevailing wages due to them.

The audit also found that King County "did not have a process to determine whether the state of Washington prevailing wage rates or the federal Davis-Bacon Act wage rates were higher; therefore, the County was not able to ensure the contractor complied with the state law that stipulates the higher of the two wages must be paid to the workers."

Click here and go to page 24 of the report to read the finding for this item.

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