A Guide to the MA Prevailing Wage Law for Awarding Authorities 

Prevailing Wage for Awarding Authorities pdf format of    Prevailing Wage for Awarding Authorities   

What is the Prevailing Wage Law?

The Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Law, G.L. c. 149, §§ 26 - 27; c. 5, § 1; c. 71, § 7A and c. 121B, § 29B ("The Prevailing Wage Law") establishes minimum wage rates for workers on public construction projects, workers engaged in school bus transportation, operators of vehicles and equipment for engaged by public entities for public works purposes (including solid waste and recycling), workers engaged by employers which provide janitorial services for state buildings, office moving services, and for certain employees of housing authorities. These different prevailing wage law requirements are discussed below.

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 Practices Division is responsible for enforcing the law. If contractors fail to comply with any provision of the Prevailing Wage Law or if you believe a contractor is not paying prevailing wages, you should contact the Attorney General's Fair Labor Division at (617) 727-3465.

What are the types of activities to which the Prevailing Wage Law applies?

Following is a list of the different Prevailing Wage Law requirements and links to a more detailed discussion of each of them.

PUBLIC CONSTRUCTION
G.L. c. 149,
§§27-27D

Before soliciting bids for any public construction project, an awarding authority must obtain a prevailing wage rate sheet from DLS. DLS has standardized forms that awarding authorities must use to request prevailing wage rates. Awarding authorities must complete an online prevailing wage request at www.mass.gov/dols/pw. In the rare instance where an awarding authority does not have access to the internet, the awarding authority must call DLS at 617-626-6953 to receive instructions on mailing a hard copy request form.

Once the awarding authority receives the prevailing wage schedule for a particular project, it must include the rate sheet in its invitation for bids. If the project does not require an invitation for bids (for example, if the project will cost less than $10,000) the awarding authority must make sure that anyone who is providing a price or estimate for the construction project has a copy of the prevailing wage rate sheet for that project. Once a contractor has been selected, the prevailing wage rate sheet is made a part of the contract for that project.

Each prevailing wage rate sheet applies only to the public construction project for which it is issued. The prevailing wage rates for each construction project are in effect for 90 days from the date of issue. Projects not bid within 90 days of the issued rates will require the awarding authority to request new prevailing wage rates. Once a project has been bid, the prevailing wage rate will apply for the duration of any contracts which result from that bid, except in the case of multi-year projects. For projects lasting more than one year, the awarding authority must request annual updates to the wage schedules (see FAQs below for more information on annual updates).

New rates must be obtained from the Department of Labor Standards each time an invitation for bids is issued for a construction project. An awarding authority must obtain prevailing wage rates for every public construction project, regardless of the dollar amount of the contract or whether it must actually be bid.

During the construction project, it is the awarding authority's responsibility to monitor contractors' compliance with the prevailing wage law. Weekly payroll records must be collected from all contractors and kept on file. Weekly payroll report forms are available on DLS' website. These weekly payroll records must be maintained by the awarding authority for three years following final payment on the construction project.

Frequently Asked Questions (Public Construction)

1. What if I am not sure if the Prevailing Wage Law applies to my contract?

You should feel free to contact the DLS Prevailing Wage Program for assistance at (617) 626-6952. You may also send an e-mail to Steve.Falcone@state.ma.us.

2. Does the Prevailing Wage Law have a dollar threshold like the state bidding laws?

No. There is no dollar threshold under the Prevailing Wage Law.

3. Is preventative maintenance work covered by the prevailing wage law?

Because the term "maintenance" is often defined differently, the Prevailing Wage Program does not use that term on our rate sheets. You may submit a request for "maintenance and repair," as these are generally bid as one contract, but the rate sheet will only cover any "additions or alterations" that occur during the course of the contract.

4. What is a Periodic Rate Sheet and when can I use one?

DLS recognizes that it might not be practical for awarding authorities to submit prevailing wage rate requests in advance of each incidental project to which the Prevailing Wage Law is applicable. For example, a municipality should be able to quickly attend to a broken window or down boiler without running afoul of the Prevailing Wage Law. For this reason, DLS will issue a periodic prevailing wage rate sheet for minor work not associated with larger projects.

These sheets are issued as a convenience and as a means of easing compliance burdens, but do not absolve awarding authorities from the obligation to submit separate timely rate requests for other planned projects. The periodic rate sheets will be effective only for the time period specified on the sheet (either six or twelve months).

To receive a periodic rate sheet for minor isolated work, please submit a Prevailing Wage Rate Request online at http://www.mass.gov/lwd/labor-standards/prevailing-wage-program/. Title your request "Periodic Wage Rate Work" and indicate either six or twelve months on the Project Description field on the request form. In the rare instance where an awarding authority does not have access to the internet, the awarding authority must call DLS at 617-626-6953 to receive instructions on mailing a hard copy request form.
 

5. What contracts need annual updates?

This law applies to all public construction contracts (contracts subject to M.G.L. c. 149, §27) bid on or after August 8, 2008. This law does not affect contracts bid prior to August 8, 2008.

6. What if the awarding authority estimates that the project will last less than one year, but the work extends into a second contract year?

The awarding authority must request an annual update, and the contractor must obtain and pay those rates.

7. When must awarding authorities request these updates?

Awarding authorities should request these updates no later than two weeks before the anniversary of the date the contract was executed. For example, if a town enters into a three-year contract for road repairs on November 1, 2008, the town must request an updated wage schedule before November 1, 2009, and November 1, 2010. This request should be made by at least October 15 of each year to allow for processing time. The effective date for the new rates will be the anniversary date of the contract, regardless of date of issuance on the schedule. In this case, the rates would go into effect on November 1, 2009 and November 1, 2010, even if the schedules were issued by DLS on October 25 of each year.

8. What are contractors obligated to do?

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. Update 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.

TRUCKS, VEHICLES AND OTHER EQUIPMENT PERFORMING PUBLIC WORKS FUNCTIONS (NON-CONSTRUCTION)
G.L. c. 149, §27F

Any agreement or requisition issued or entered into by an awarding authority which requires the use of a vehicle or equipment for public works purposes must contain a stipulation that prevailing wages shall be paid to the operators of such vehicles or 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 http://www.mass.gov/lwd/labor-standards/prevailing-wage-program/. In the rare instance where an awarding authority does not have access to the internet, the awarding authority must call DLS at 617-626-6953 to receive instructions on mailing a hard copy request form. Once the awarding authority receives the prevailing wage rate sheet, it must include the rate sheet in the agreement or requisition.

Frequently Asked Questions (Non-Construction / G.L. c. 149, § 27F)

1. How long is the rate sheet in effect once issued?

Prevailing wage rate sheets for vehicle or equipment use, including trash/recycling disposal, remain in effect for the duration of the contract term. Any exercise of an option to renew or extend the contract term shall include updated prevailing wage rates.

2. Are weekly certified payroll records required to be maintained by the awarding authority?

No, but the awarding authority is still required to monitor compliance with the prevailing wage requirement, as it would for any other contractual requirement.

3. Do the prevailing wage requirements of § 27F apply to "secondary haulers" (haulers who haul trash from a transfer station to the ultimate place of disposal)?

Yes. See Perlera v. Vining Disposal Service Inc. 47 Mass. App. Ct. 416 (1977).

SCHOOL BUS TRANSPORTATION
G.L. c. 71, §7A

Prior to awarding a contract for the transportation of pupils, the awarding authority for a city, town or school district having a population of sixteen thousand or more must request a prevailing wage rate sheet from DLS. DLS has standardized forms that awarding authorities must use to request prevailing wage schedules for school bus contracts. Awarding authorities must complete an online prevailing wage request form at www.mass.gov/dols/pw. In the rare instance where an awarding authority does not have access to the internet, the awarding authority must call DLS at 617-626-6953 to receive instructions on mailing a hard copy request form.


Frequently Asked Questions (School Bus Contracts)

1. What if my city or town has a population of fewer than sixteen thousand

If DLS determines, using the most recent U.S. Census Data, that a town or city has a population of less than sixteen thousand, it will not set a prevailing wage rate, and will provide notice to the awarding authority.

2. What if my town or city is part of a regional school district?

If the combined populations of the town(s)/cities which comprise the school district is equal or greater to sixteen thousand, the DLS will aggregate the population of multiple cities or towns to determine the applicable prevailing wage rate.

3. How long is the rate sheet in effect once issued?

Prevailing wage rate sheets for transportation of pupils for a city, town, or school district having a population of sixteen thousand or over, remain in effect for the duration of the contract term. Any exercise of an option to renew or extend the contract term shall include updated prevailing wage rates.

HOUSING AUTHORITIES
G.L. c. 121B, § 29

Massachusetts General Law, c. 121B, § 29, provides a statutory scheme by which the wage rates of certain employees of state housing authorities are determined. Pursuant to Section 29B, a housing authority is required to provide to DLS a list of classifications of work performed by all architects, technical engineers, draftsmen, technicians, laborers and mechanics employed by the authority. After a housing authority provides such information, DLS determines prevailing wage rate for each classification and provides the housing authority with a wage schedule. The law provides that such wages and fees "shall not be less than those determined by said commissioner who shall set the rate at no less than eighty percent of the prevailing wage in accordance with sections twenty six and twenty seven of chapter one hundred forty nine."

Frequently Asked Questions (Housing Authorities)

1. How often does DLS issue wage rates for housing authorities?

DLS issues wage rates for housing authorities in March of each year, with an effective date of April 1 of the same year.

2. After the DLS issues wage rates for certain housing authority in March of each year, may the housing authority request updated rates and/or a new job classification?

Yes, however, any increases in the collective bargaining agreements which are the basis for the wage rates will be included in the new rates that are issued as a result of subsequent requests.
 

MOVING OFFICE FURNITURE AND FIXTURES
G.L. c. 149, §27G

Prevailing wage rates shall apply to any contract for the moving of office furniture and fixtures entered into or given by the commonwealth or by a county, city, town, or district. "Moving" of the office furniture must be reconciled with the statutory definition of construction under the prevailing wage laws. Construction is described as any "addition or alteration of public works" in G.L. 149, §27D. The "moving" of the office furniture must be within an addition or alteration to the building or space. Included in the "moving" definition is the installation of furniture or fixtures that are affixed to the building and the disassembly, moving, and reconfiguration of existing furniture or fixtures.

The Commonwealth, county, city, town or district shall request DLS to issue prevailing rates of wages. DLS has standardized forms that awarding authorities must use to request prevailing wage rates. Awarding authorities must complete an online prevailing wage request form at www.mass.gov/dols/pw. In the rare instance where an awarding authority does not have access to the internet, the awarding authority must call DLS at 617-626-6953 to receive instructions on mailing a hard copy request form.

DLS will furnish a schedule containing the classifications of jobs and the rate of wages to be paid each job. The wage rates shall include an hourly wage and payments to health and welfare plans. If no such plans are in effect between employers and employees, the amount of such payments shall be paid directly to said employee. Once the awarding authority receives the prevailing wage rate sheet, it must include the rate sheet in the agreements or requisition.

Frequently Asked Questions (Moving Office Furniture Contracts)

1. Who is responsible for ensuring the employees are paid the prevailing wage?

The awarding authority is responsible for making sure the contractors and subcontractors of their project are paying employees the prevailing wage.

2. Is the purchase and installation of new office furniture considered "moving"?

The purchase of office furniture and the subsequent installation would not be covered under the prevailing wage law unless the installation affixed the furniture to the building. The mere delivery, assembly and placement of new office furniture is not covered by the prevailing wage law. Prevailing wage would apply only to building alterations done in connections with the installation of the office furniture, such as electrical work that may need to be done to the building to make electrical or data network connections.

STATE CLEANING CONTRACTS
G.L. c.149, §27H

Any contract providing for the cleaning and maintenance of public buildings or space rented by the commonwealth must contain a stipulation that prevailing wages will be paid to the employees of the maintenance or cleaning contractor. The statute does not extend the prevailing wage to contracts for the cleaning and maintenance of buildings owned or space rented by town or cities. The awarding authorities of commonwealth contracts must request prevailing wage rates from the commissioner of DLS.

DLS has standardized forms that awarding authorities must use to request prevailing wage rates. Awarding authorities must complete an online prevailing wage request form at http://www.mass.gov/lwd/labor-standards/prevailing-wage-program/. In the rare instance where an awarding authority does not have access to the internet, the awarding authority must call DLS at 617-626-6953 to receive instructions on mailing a hard copy request form.

Said rates set by DLS include an hourly wage plus payments into health, welfare and pension plans. If no such plans are in effect between employer and employee, the employee must receive the equivalent in wages. Once the awarding authority receives the prevailing wage rate sheet, it must include the rate sheet in the agreement or requisition .