FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON STATE PREVAILING WAGE
Whether you are just starting out as a prevailing wage contractor or just looking to keep yourself updated, we have compiled these resources about state prevailing wage. Here are the most common questions of prevailing wage contractors and workers to help expand your knowledge!
Government contractors looking to succeed in Rhode Island should ensure full compliance with the local and federal laws on prevailing wage. You can build strong relationships with different public bodies as long as you avoid the complications that arise from a failure to meet obligations under the law.
To help you ensure compliance, here are some frequently asked questions about Rhode Island Prevailing Wage to guide you.
The Rhode Island General Law (RIGL) mandates that any contractor awarded a public works construction project with a value over $1000 in state or municipal funds is required to pay prevailing wage rates. Prevailing wage requirements refer to the rate of pay contractors are required to pay workers performing various and related trades.
RIGL covers any public work, consisting of grading, demolishing, cleaning, completion, improvement, repair, alteration or construction of any public road, bridge or portion thereof, or any heavy construction or any public works projects of any kind.
If the overall cost to public funds of a public works project is $1000 or more, the requirements apply to subcontractors even if the contract between the general contractor and subcontractor is less than $1000.
Contractors are obligated to accomplish Rhode Island Certified Weekly Payroll Forms and the RI Statement of Compliance. Using other state forms or company payroll forms is unacceptable. Federal forms can only be used for projects awarded by the Department of Transportation. In cases of an investigation by the RI Department of Labor and Training, the department will require the contractor to resubmit the requested payroll information on the RI form for all hours worked on the DOT project under investigation. The contractor, as well as the awarding authority, must provide the Department of Labor and Training the certified payroll forms within 10 days upon request.
Another duty of contractors and subcontractors is to post the prevailing wage rates and prevailing rate of payments to the funds required to be paid to execute the contract and the rights and remedies of any employee for nonpayment, in easily accessible and prominent places in the project work site.
Lastly, every Rhode Island prevailing wage contractor/subcontractor is required to keep an accurate record which includes the name, occupation and wages paid to each employed worker, and the payments to all the employee funds by him/her in connection with the contract.
Prevailing wage contractors in Rhode Island are required to adjust the hourly rates every July 1, according to the updated Davis-Bacon rates. Trade rates may also change at various times throughout the year. Wage rates can be found here.
Under Rhode Island prevailing wage requirements, any employee working more than forty (40) hours in any one week, or greater than eight (8) hours in any one day, including working on the weekend, should be compensated the prevailing wage rate for overtime work. Overtime pay is calculated on the base rate only. The fringe benefit rate is then added to the adjusted figure.
The Rhode Island Prevailing Wage Law does not provide different rates per trade for working on the weekend and for working on legal holidays. Call (401) 462-8550 for more information on compensation on legal holidays.
Note that workers also do not receive different prevailing wage rates per trade for different shifts worked throughout the day.
Fringe benefits are “fringes” added on the general wage determinations. Bona fide fringe benefits can be deducted by the employer from that rate. An employer must pay the base wage plus the amount of the fringe benefit in the hourly pay rate if there are no bona fide fringe benefits to be given.
Bona fide fringe benefits include medical or hospital coverage, sickness insurance, coverage for injuries or illnesses resulting from occupational activity, accident insurance, life or disability insurance, a pension or retirement plan or 401k, apprentice costs such as books or tuition, defraying cost of apprenticeship or other similar programs, holiday pay or vacation or personal time, insurance to provide unemployment benefits and other bona fide fringe benefits.
Note that state-mandated unemployment insurance, travel pay, workers’ compensation, gas reimbursement, company vehicle use, uniforms, and discretionary bonuses do not qualify as bona fide fringe benefits.
In planning the provision of fringe benefits to employees, contractors should ensure that the following are met:
- Contributions are irrevocable
- Contributions are for the employee’s benefits
- Contributions are made regularly (at least once every quarter)
- Contributions are not required by law, i.e. not taxes, workers’ compensation, social security
- Contributions cannot be used to fund the plan for periods of non-prevailing wage work
- Amount of contributions are made irrevocably to a trustee or third party
If the anticipated fringe benefits will be paid from the general assets of the contractor, the contractor should set aside the amount of money that will be claimed as a fringe benefit credit for the project in an escrow amount. In the event that the worker leaves the company before the completion of the project, any remaining escrowed funds should still be paid to the employee.
Note that contractors should determine the allowable hourly credit separately for each employee, as the determinants of credit, e.g. benefit contribution amount, type of benefits, and hours work vary per individual.
As mentioned, travel, gas reimbursement, and use of company vehicle are not bona fide fringe benefits under the prevailing wage law. Similarly, state-mandated unemployment insurance, uniforms and discretionary bonuses are not bona fide fringe benefits.
Training contribution can be considered a bona fide fringe benefit in the State of Rhode Island, and can be deducted from the base wage rate, but only if the apprentice is registered in a bona fide indentured apprenticeship program.
Both the company and the apprentice are required to be registered with the Department of Labor and Training in a bona fide indentured apprenticeship program. The company can then take a deduction from the base rate of the applicable prevailing wage rate. This should be done following the percentage scale of the Apprentice Agreement between the company and the apprentice, as registered with the Department of Labor and Training.
If the employee is not registered under the RIGL, then the employee should be paid in full prevailing wage, and not an apprentice rate, for the work actually performed.
When completing an Apprenticeship Agreement, you will be asked to submit the Apprentice Ratio form, two passport-sized photos, proof of school enrollment, and check or money order ($24).
The contractor must provide a fully executed certified payroll using the Rhode Island form within ten days of request by the Department of Labor and Training. The awarding authority must also furnish any requested certified payroll within ten days of request to the Department of Labor and Training. Failure to comply with the request during an investigation can result to a penalty of up to $500 for each calendar day of noncompliance.
Failure to post prevailing wage rates and other necessary information will result to the contractor/subcontractor being deemed guilty of a misdemeanor. They must then pay $100 to the Director of Labor and Training for each calendar day of noncompliance.
Any employer that violates or shows failure to comply with any of the provisions of Chapter 25 is guilty of a misdemeanor. They will be punished a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1000 for each separate offense. Alternatively, the face imprisonment of up to one year, or both fine and imprisonment. Each day of failure constitutes a separate and distinct violation.
Under the RIGL, any person, firm or corporation violating the provisions of Chapter 25, as found by the Director of Labor and Training, an awarding authority or the hearing officer, will be ineligible to bid on any public works project for a period not less than 18 months and not more than 36 months. All pending bids by any awarding authority, and any bid awarded before the commencement of the work, will be revoked.
Two or more willful violations in any period of eighteen months would result to the ineligibility to bid on or be awarded work by any awarding authority or perform any work for 60 months from the date of the second violation.
LEARN MORE ABOUT RHODE ISLAND PREVAILING WAGE WITH ARCHER JORDAN
For a smooth partnership with the public bodies of the State of Rhode Island, you and your firm can only benefit from ensuring compliance with the prevailing wage law. Here at ARCHER JORDAN, we act as a third party administrator providing fringe benefits to government contractors and hourly hires.
ARCHER JORDAN wants your business to succeed in Rhode Island. You can trust our team of professionals to help you ensure compliance to the existing rules and regulations.