Common Fair Contracting Terms

Davis-Bacon and Related Acts

The Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, apply to contractors and subcontractors performing on federally funded or assisted contracts in excess of $2,000 for the construction, alteration, or repair (including painting and decorating) of public buildings or public works. Davis-Bacon Act and Related Act contractors and subcontractors must pay their laborers and mechanics employed under the contract no less than the locally prevailing wages and fringe benefits for corresponding work on similar projects in the area. The Davis-Bacon Act directs the Department of Labor to determine such locally prevailing wage rates. The Davis-Bacon Act applies to contractors and subcontractors performing work on federal or District of Columbia contracts. The Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wage provisions apply to the “Related Acts,” under which federal agencies assist construction projects through grants, loans, loan guarantees, and insurance. For prime contracts in excess of $100,000, contractors and subcontractors must also, under the provisions of the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, as amended, pay laborers and mechanics, including guards and watchmen, at least one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act may also apply to DBA-covered contracts. Source:  

Employee Misclassification as Independent Contractors

The misclassification of employees as something other than employees, such as independent contractors, presents a serious problem for affected employees, employers, and to the entire economy. Misclassified employees are often denied access to critical benefits and protections – such as family and medical leave, overtime, minimum wage and unemployment insurance – to which they are entitled. Employee misclassification also generates substantial losses to the Treasury and the Social Security and Medicare funds, as well as to state unemployment insurance and workers compensation funds. Source:  

Copeland “Anti-Kickback” Act

The Copeland Act is administered by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD). The “Anti-Kickback” section of the Copeland Act applies to all contractors and subcontractors performing on any federally funded or assisted contract for the construction, prosecution, completion, or repair of any public building or public work, except contracts for which the only federal assistance is a loan guarantee. This provision applies even where no labor standards statute covers the contract. The regulations pertaining to Copeland Act payroll deductions and submittal of the weekly statement of compliance apply only to contractors and subcontractors performing on federally funded contracts in excess of $2,000 and federally assisted contracts in excess of $2,000 that are subject to federal wage standards. The “Anti-Kickback” section of the Act precludes a contractor or subcontractor from in any way inducing an employee to give up any part of the compensation to which he or she is entitled under his or her contract of employment. The Act and implementing regulations require a contractor and subcontractor to submit a weekly statement of the wages paid to each employee performing on covered work during the preceding payroll period. The regulations also list payroll deductions that are permissible without the approval of the Secretary of Labor and those deductions that require consent of the Secretary of Labor. The “Anti-Kickback” provisions of the Copeland Act give covered workers on subject federal contracts the right to receive the full pay to which they are entitled for the work they perform. The Act also gives such workers the right to receive pay on a weekly basis. The Wage and Hour Division accepts complaints of alleged Copeland Act wage violations. Source:  

WHD Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides that any person has the right to request access to federal agency records or information. Like all federal agencies, the Department of Labor (DOL) is required to disclose records requested in writing by any person. However, agencies may withhold information pursuant to nine exemptions and three exclusions contained in the statute. FOIA applies only to federal agencies and does not create a right of access to records held by Congress, the courts, or by state or local government agencies. Source:

The False Claims Act

The False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729 – 3733 was enacted in 1863 by a Congress concerned that suppliers of goods to the Union Army during the Civil War were defrauding the Army. The FCA provided that any person who knowingly submitted false claims to the government was liable for double the government’s damages plus a penalty of $2,000 for each false claim. Since then, the FCA has been amended several times. In 1986, there were significant changes to the FCA, including increasing damages from double damages to treble damages and raising the penalties from $2,000 to a range of $5,000 to $10,000. The FCA has been amended three times since 1986. Over the life of the statute it has been interpreted on hundreds of occasions by federal courts (which sometimes issue conflicting interpretations of the statute). Source:

Federal and State Overtime Laws

An employer who requires or permits an employee to work overtime is generally required to pay the employee premium pay for such overtime work. Unless specifically exempted, employees covered by the Act must receive overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay. There is no limit in the Act on the number of hours employees aged 16 and older may work in any workweek. The Act does not require overtime pay for work on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, or regular days of rest, as such. The Act applies on a workweek basis. An employee’s workweek is a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours — seven consecutive 24-hour periods. It need not coincide with the calendar week, but may begin on any day and at any hour of the day. Different workweeks may be established for different employees or groups of employees. Averaging of hours over two or more weeks is not permitted. Normally, overtime pay earned in a particular workweek must be paid on the regular pay day for the pay period in which the wages were earned. The regular rate of pay cannot be less than the minimum wage. The regular rate includes all remuneration for employment except certain payments excluded by the Act itself. Payments which are not part of the regular rate include pay for expenses incurred on the employer’s behalf, premium payments for overtime work or the true premiums paid for work on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, discretionary bonuses, gifts and payments in the nature of gifts on special occasions, and payments for occasional periods when no work is performed due to vacation, holidays, or illness. Earnings may be determined on a piece-rate, salary, commission, or some other basis, but in all such cases the overtime pay due must be computed on the basis of the average hourly rate derived from such earnings. This is calculated by dividing the total pay for employment (except for the statutory exclusions noted above) in any workweek by the total number of hours actually worked. Where an employee in a single workweek works at two or more different types of work for which different straight-time rates have been established, the regular rate for that week is the weighted average of such rates. That is, the earnings from all such rates are added together and this total is then divided by the total number of hours worked at all jobs. In addition, section 7(g)(2) of the FLSA allows, under specified conditions, the computation of overtime pay based on one and one-half times the hourly rate in effect when the overtime work is performed. The requirements for computing overtime pay pursuant to section 7(g)(2) are prescribed in 29 CFR 778.415 through 778.421. Source:

Safety and Health Administration

With the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. OSHA is part of the United States Department of Labor. The administrator for OSHA is the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. OSHA’s administrator answers to the Secretary of Labor, who is a member of the cabinet of the President of the United States. The OSH Act covers most private sector employers and their workers, in addition to some public sector employers and workers in the 50 states and certain territories and jurisdictions under federal authority. Those jurisdictions include the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Wake Island, Johnston Island, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands as defined in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Source:

Apprenticeship Regulations

Individuals who meet the following definition may be employed as apprentices on DBRA projects: (a) A person employed and individually registered in a bona fide apprenticeship program registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, or with a State Apprenticeship Agency recognized by the Bureau, Or (b) A person in the first 90 days of probationary employment as an apprentice in such an apprenticeship program, who is not individually registered in the program, but who has been properly certified to be eligible for probationary employment as an apprentice. Trainees employed must be persons registered in a construction occupation under a program which has been approved in advance by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, as meeting its standards for on-the-job training programs and which have been so certified by that Administration. Information on wage rates paid to apprentices and trainees is not reflected in Davis-Bacon wage determinations. Similarly, their addition through the additional classification procedure (conformance) is neither necessary nor appropriate. On projects funded by the Federal-Aid Highway Act, apprentices and trainees certified by the Secretary of Transportation are not covered by Davis-Bacon labor standards. The proper wage rates to be paid to apprentices and trainees are those specified by the particular programs in which they are enrolled, expressed as a percentage of the journeyman rate on the wage determination. In the event employees reported as apprentices or trainees on a covered project have not been properly registered within the meaning of the Regulations and the contract stipulations, or are utilized at the job site in excess of the ratio to journeymen permitted under the approved program, they must be paid the applicable wage rates for laborers and mechanics employed on the project performing in the classification of work they actually performed. This applies regardless of work classifications which may be listed on the submitted payrolls and regardless of their level of skill. Helper classifications may be issued in or added to a wage determination only where the (a) the duties of the helpers are clearly defined and distinct from those of the journeyman classification and from the laborer, (b) the use of such helpers is an established prevailing practice in the area, and (c) the term “helper” is not synonymous with “trainee” in an informal training program. Source:

Debarment and other penalties

Contract payments may be withheld in sufficient amounts to satisfy liabilities for underpayment of wages and for liquidated damages for overtime violations under the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act (CWHSSA). In addition, violations of the Davis-Bacon contract clauses may be grounds for contract termination, contractor liability for any resulting costs to the government and debarment from future contracts for a period up to three years. Contractors and subcontractors may challenge determinations of violations and debarment before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Interested parties may appeal ALJ decisions to the Department’s Administrative Review Board. Final Board determinations on violations and debarment may be appealed to and are enforceable through the federal courts. Source:   (1) Whenever any contractor or subcontractor is found by the Secretary of Labor to be in aggravated or willful violation of the labor standards provisions of any of the applicable statutes listed in §5.1 other than the Davis-Bacon Act, such contractor or subcontractor or any firm, corporation, partnership, or association in which such contractor or subcontractor has a substantial interest shall be ineligible for a period not to exceed 3 years (from the date of publication by the Comptroller General of the name or names of said contractor or subcontractor on the ineligible list as provided below) to receive any contracts or subcontracts subject to any of the statutes listed in §5.1. (2) In cases arising under contracts covered by the Davis-Bacon Act, the Administrator shall transmit to the Comptroller General the names of the contractors or subcontractors and their responsible officers, if any (and any firms in which the contractors or subcontractors are known to have an interest), who have been found to have disregarded their obligations to employees, and the recommendation of the Secretary of Labor or authorized representative regarding debarment. The Comptroller General will distribute a list to all Federal agencies giving the names of such ineligible person or firms, who shall be ineligible to be awarded any contract or subcontract of the United States or the District of Columbia and any contract or subcontract subject to the labor standards provisions of the statutes listed in §5.1.   Source:

Whistleblower Protection

Employers are specifically prohibited from intimidating, threatening, restraining, coercing, blacklisting, discharging, or discriminating in any other manner against a worker who has exercised his/her rights under the H-1B program. Employers who violate these provisions are subject to penalties up to $5,000 per violation, and a two-year debarment. The Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division may impose such other administrative remedies as the Administrator determines to be appropriate, including, but not limited to, reinstatement of workers who were discriminated against, reinstatement of displaced U.S. workers, back wages to workers who have been displaced or whose employment has been terminated in violation of these provisions, or other appropriate legal or equitable remedies. All requirements listed above can be found in 20 CFR § 655 Subparts H & I and the Immigration and Nationality Act § 212(n). Source:

Recordkeeping Requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The FLSA sets minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards for employment subject to its provisions. Unless exempt, covered employees must be paid at least the minimum wage and not less than one and one-half times their regular rates of pay for overtime hours worked. Employers must display an official poster outlining the provisions of the Act, available at no cost from local offices of the Wage and Hour Division and toll-free, by calling 1-866-4USWage (1-866-487-9243). This poster is also available electronically for downloading and printing at Every covered employer must keep certain records for each non-exempt worker. The Act requires no particular form for the records, but does require that the records include certain identifying information about the employee and data about the hours worked and the wages earned. The law requires this information to be accurate. The following is a listing of the basic records that an employer must maintain:

  • Employee’s full name and social security number.
  • Address, including zip code.
  • Birth date, if younger than 19.
  • Sex and occupation.
  • Time and day of week when employee’s workweek begins.
  • Hours worked each day.
  • Total hours worked each workweek.
  • Basis on which employee’s wages are paid (e.g., “$9 per hour”, “$440 a week”, “piecework”)
  • Regular hourly pay rate.
  • Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings.
  • Total overtime earnings for the workweek.
  • All additions to or deductions from the employee’s wages.
  • Total wages paid each pay period.
  • Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment.

Each employer shall preserve for at least three years payroll records, collective bargaining agreements, sales and purchase records. Records on which wage computations are based should be retained for two years, i.e., time cards and piece work tickets, wage rate tables, work and time schedules, and records of additions to or deductions from wages. These records must be open for inspection by the Division’s representatives, who may ask the employer to make extensions, computations, or transcriptions. The records may be kept at the place of employment or in a central records office. Employers may use any timekeeping method they choose. For example, they may use a time clock, have a timekeeper keep track of employee’s work hours, or tell their workers to write their own times on the records. Any timekeeping plan is acceptable as long as it is complete and accurate. The following is a sample timekeeping format employers may follow but are not required to do so:

Sunday 6/3/07 ——– ——– ——–
Monday 6/4/07 8:00am 12:02pm
1:00pm 5:03pm 8
Tuesday 6/5/07 7:57am 11:58am
1:00pm 5:00pm 8
Wednesday 6/6/07 8:02am 12:10pm
1:06pm 5:05pm 8
Thursday 6/7/07 ——– ——– ——–
Friday 6/8/07 ——– ——– ——–
Saturday 6/9/07 ——– ——– ——–
Total Workweek Hours:                          24

Many employees work on a fixed schedule from which they seldom vary. The employer may keep a record showing the exact schedule of daily and weekly hours and merely indicate that the worker did follow the schedule. When a worker is on a job for a longer or shorter period of time than the schedule shows, the employer must record the number of hours the worker actually worked, on an exception basis. Source:


Recent Executive Orders Related to Fair Contracting

Executive Order 13673 – Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces

Executive Order 13672 – Further Amendments to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, and Executive Order 11246, Equal Employment Opportunity

Executive Order 13665 – Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information

Executive Order 13658 – Minimum Wage for Contractors

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Executive Order 13658, Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors

Executive Order 13502 – Use of Project Labor Agreement for Federal Construction Projects

Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects

U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration:  Construction Program Guide

Executive Order 13495 – Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers under Service Contracts

Wage and Hour Division (WHD): Final Rule on Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts

Executive Order 13494 – Economy in Government Contracting


Davis-Bacon Resources

DOL – Davis-Bacon and Related Acts

Frequently Asked Questions Questions that will be answered through this link will be…

I. Davis-Bacon Wage Determinations

  • What is a wage determination?
  • What is a General Wage Determination?
  • What is a project wage determination?
  • What are supersedeas wage determinations?
  • What is a modification to a wage determination?

II. Obtaining Davis-Bacon Wage Determinations

  • How do I subscribe to General Wage Determinations Issued Under The Davis-Bacon and Related Acts? – Are the General Wage Determinations available electronically?
  • How do I obtain a wage determination for a construction project to be performed at a location not covered by a published wage determination?
  • Where can I obtain a copy of the General Wage Determination needed for a covered federal project?

III. Prevailing Wage Rates

  • Is the rate on the wage determination the minimum hourly wage rate?
  • Once construction has begun, are the workers- wage rates affected when the wage determination for the area in which the project is located is changed?
  • Is it possible for more than one wage schedule to apply to specifications for a particular contract?
  • Can apprentices, trainees, and/or helpers work on a project covered by the Davis-Bacon or related Acts (DBRA), and what wage rates must they be paid?
  • What wage rates must be paid to supervisory employees (foremen, superintendents, etc.) employed on a covered project?

IV. Davis-Bacon Wage Surveys

  • What criteria are used to determine the need for a survey in a particular area?
  • What is the purpose of this survey?
  • How are Davis-Bacon wage surveys conducted?
  • Who does the Department of Labor contact during the survey?
  • What is a peak week?
  • May we report an average of wage rates?
  • In order to submit wage data for a survey, do I have to have worked within the survey time frame?
  • Do I have to participate in a survey and is it important to participate?
  • In responding to a Davis-Bacon prevailing wage survey, what can we count as fringe benefits?
  • How are prevailing wage rates calculated?
  • How should wage data be reported for operating engineers on the WD-10 form?
  • How should wage data be reported for laborers on the WD-10 form?
  • How should wage data be reported for ironworkers on the WD-10 form?
  • When is data from federal projects included in Davis-Bacon wage surveys?

V. Appeal Process

  • If it is believed that the rates on a wage determination are not accurate can the wage determination be appealed?

VI. Contracting Agency Responsibilities

  • How do workers on a construction site know that a project is covered by the Davis-Bacon Act?- How do they know the prevailing wage to which they are entitled?
  • As the contracting officer/Federal agency representative, what is my obligation when the wage determination(s) applicable to a construction project contains multiple wage schedules (for different counties and/or types of construction)?
  • The wage determination applicable to my project does not contain a class of workers which is needed to complete construction. -Can other worker classification(s) and wage rate(s) be approved for use on the project?W

Wage & Hour Division Resources

DOL – Wage and Hour – Home Page

1) DBRA Survey Status by State – Wage and Hour Division

2) Frequently Asked Questions: Conformance’s – Wage and Hour Division

3) Wage Determination Online Homepage

4) Employee Misclassification as Independent Contractors – Wage and Hour Division


Public Works Compliance Resources

1) Center for Contract Compliance

2) Indiana, Illinois and Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting

3) Foundation for Fair Contracting of Massachusetts

4) Public Works Compliance Network

National Alliance for Fair Contracting
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