The prevailing wage rules apply to many different types of projects and specific jobs at those projects. What the rules do is essentially create a special, and much higher, minimum wage for certain workers on government-related projects. While it sometimes is easy to identify public works projects, other times the governmental connection can be difficult to see. It could be tax breaks, financing assistance, property grants, etc.
Employers are required to know if their contracts are subject to the prevailing wage laws. If covered, the contractor/employer must pay at least the wages set forth in the schedules.
The New York State Department of Labor (NYDOL) has a wealth of information on its website, including all the current wage schedules. Here are some important highlights:
- Under State law, all contracts between a government entity and a contractor must contain Prevailing Wage Schedules.
- Prevailing Wage Schedules are issued separately, by county.
- The schedules contain the pay rates for each work classification. In all, there are over 65 different job classifications and corresponding wage rates applicable in each New York county.
- Article 8 applies to workers in over 50 categories, covering virtually all of the work done on two types of construction sites:
- “General Construction Projects” (buildings, heavy and highway construction, tunnel and water and sewer), and
- “Residential Construction Projects” (one-family, two-family, row housing, or rental units) that involve a government entity or financing.
- Article 9 applies to workers doing building service work for a public agency.
- Covered workers include watchmen, guards, building cleaners, porters, janitors, gardeners, groundskeepers, firemen, elevator operators, window cleaners, garbage or refuse collectors, furniture and equipment movers, and fuel drivers.
The City of New York has its own website that details how State law Articles 8 and 9 apply in New York City. The website also explains two unique NYC wage laws:
- Living wage rates must be paid for home care services, daycare services, head start services, or services to persons with cerebral palsy by contractors with New York City government agency contracts or who receive NYC financial assistance.
- Minimum average hourly rates of between $45 and $63/hour must be paid for construction work on residential buildings with 300 or more rental units that receive NYC tax exemptions.
How to know if your job is covered by the prevailing wage laws:
- Worksites and employers covered by prevailing wage laws are required to post notices, like these, prominently in the workplace.
- You can contact the Department of Labor and ask about your job.
- New York state law was amended to clarify and expand the definition of work covered by the New York prevailing wage laws. The new law goes into effect in January 2022 and we will be updating this information as information becomes available.
NY Prevailing Wage Case Studies
- Pelton Graham recovered $1 Million for 7 union construction workers in New York who were unlawfully subjected to prevailing wage violations.
- Pelton Graham recovered $3.1 Million for technicians who installed smart boards in New York public schools and who were paid at their regular hourly rate instead of the applicable prevailing wage rate plus supplemental benefits.
- Pelton Graham LLC secured a settlement of $1.25 Million on behalf of a group of security guards and fire safety guards who were not paid overtime premium pay for overtime hours spent covering for other employees’ shifts and were not paid prevailing wages for their work on public works projects.
New York Prevailing Wage Press Release
A New York appeals court ruled in favor of a class of flaggers who worked for Judlau Contracting Inc., a subsidiary of multi-billion dollar infrastructure contractor OHL Group, that Judlau flaggers who worked on New York public works projects are entitled to recover prevailing wages. The flaggers are represented by Pelton Graham, an employment law firm with offices in New York and California: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-york-appeals-court-confirms-construction-flaggers-must-be-paid-prevailing-wages-301530231.html
New York Prevailing Wage Blog Posts
Photo by Lex Photography from Pexels