A Guide to Prevailing Wage in Florida: Rules, Requirements, Rates, FAQs, and More for 2024

Need to know Florida’s prevailing wages to keep your company and its workforce compliant? Our guide has everything to get started!

In most states, private contractors working on public projects must pay construction workers a standard minimum wage known as a prevailing wage. Prevailing wages consist of a base wage rate and fringe benefits like healthcare, retirement benefits, and life insurance, among others. Wages vary depending on the workers’ craft, project type, and location. Contractors must pay no less than this prevailing wage or face legal liability.

Florida enacted its original prevailing wage law in 1933, only to repeal it later in 1979. Currently, Florida doesn’t have its own prevailing wage but is still subject to laws like the Davis-Bacon Act and the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA). Congress passed the Davis-Bacon Act in 1931, making prevailing wages mandatory for all federally funded projects. Conversely, the SCA applies to contractors entering into service contracts like food, security, janitorial services, and the like.

Both contractors and construction workers have a critical role in ensuring prevailing wage compliance. The former are required to pay the current wage rate, while workers must receive no less than their rightful prevailing wage or pursue legal action.

In today’s post, we’ll examine the fine points of Florida’s Prevailing Wage Law, starting from the basics to how these wages are determined and enforced. If you stick around until the end, we’ll let you in on some amazing tips for ensuring compliance and avoiding legal ramifications.

Understanding Prevailing Wage Laws in Florida

Prevailing wage laws in Florida are stipulated under s. 215.19 of Florida Statutes. Under this statute, all private contractors and subcontractors working on public works projects in excess of $5,000 must pay the minimum prevailing wage. This applies to all contracts by the state, county, municipality, or any other political subdivision.

These contracts must contain provisions for prevailing wage payment to laborers, mechanics, apprentices, and other construction workers. Contractors must pay their workers nothing less than the prevailing wage for comparable work in that region. However, there has been much contention about what “prevailing wage” means.

Despite the prevailing wage statute, a concrete definition of prevailing wage is yet to be cited in these codes. The bone of contention is whether prevailing wages should include fringe benefits by definition.

Besides, s. 215.19 of Florida Statutes, Federally funded contracts exceeding $2,000 are subject to prevailing wage requirements per Sec. 3142. of the Davis Bacon and Related Acts. Under this act, all contractors and subcontractors on such projects must pay the minimum prevailing wage for comparable work within the same locality. These requirements are applicable to all public and construction work, including:

The Department of Labor will determine the prevailing wage rates and make them available to contractors and subcontractors. Contractors and subcontractors must then post the wage scale in a visible and accessible location on the job site. That way, all workers can compare their prevailing wage rates to what they receive, as seen on their pay stubs.

After, the contractor must pay this prevailing wage at least once a week, including fringe benefits and overtime. Contractors and subcontractors must pay this prevailing wage regardless of any previous written employment agreements. Workers are also barred from taking anything less than the prevailing wage as compensation for work done.

Contractors and subcontractors must also pay all eligible workers overtime at one and a half times the standard rates for all work hours exceeding 40 per week. They must also furnish the awarding authority with certified payrolls showing the amount they paid each worker during the project. Certified payroll for the previous week should be submitted no more than seven days from the payment date.

The Davis Bacon Act allows contractors to hire apprentices but only from apprenticeship programs recognized by:

The law also permits contractors and subcontractors to pay apprentices less than the prevailing wage for their craft, but they must maintain an appropriate apprentice-to-journeyman ratio. Apprentice wage rates must follow a wage schedule approved by a recognized apprenticeship program. It’s also worth noting that misclassifying workers as apprentices to underpay them is illegal and can have severe legal consequences.

Purpose and Goals of Prevailing Wage Laws in Florida

Despite repealing its prevailing wage law in 1979, Florida still follows the stipulations of the Davis Bacon and Related Acts and the SCA. Like other states, many interested parties were initially skeptical of these requirements since they would inflate wages, shifting the payment burden to the contractors and the general public.

However, prevailing ages are crucial in protecting Florida’s blue-collar workforce and uplifting the state’s economy. Some main reasons for prevailing wages in Florida include:

Determining Prevailing Wages in Florida

In Florida, prevailing wage rates for construction projects are typically determined based on prevailing wage surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor or the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). Here’s how the process generally works:

Florida uses three main criteria to calculate and determine the prevailing wage rate for a specific region. The criteria include:

The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) under the U.S. Department of Labor is responsible for enforcing prevailing wage requirements in Florida. Some key responsibilities of the WHD under prevailing wage law include:

Compliance With Prevailing Wage Laws

Contractors must ensure full compliance with Florida’s prevailing wage laws or face legal liability. The key responsibilities of contractors and subcontractors under the Davis-Bacon and McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act include:

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What Are the Penalties for Non-Compliance?

Florida takes its prevailing wage laws seriously, and violating prevailing wage requirements attracts hefty legal ramifications under the DBRA and SCA. The penalties for non-compliance vary depending on the type of violation and whether the offense is repeated. These penalties include:

Resources and Tools for Contractors to Ensure Compliance

Compliance with every aspect of prevailing wage laws is easier said than done, especially for first-time contractors. Fortunately, contractors can always utilize state and federal government tools and resources to ensure compliance. Some of the best resources to help contractors ensure compliance include:

Navigating Prevailing Wages

Compliance with prevailing wage requirements requires concerted efforts from both workers and contractors. Workers must understand their rights under prevailing wage law and report any violations by contractors without fear of retaliation. Workers can do the following to better understand and protect their rights under Florida’s prevailing wage law.

Contractors play the most important role in ensuring compliance with prevailing wage laws since they are responsible for paying their wages. Here are a couple of tips they can use to ensure maximum compliance.

Common Challenges and Solutions to Prevailing Wage Compliance

Prevailing wage compliance is a tricky business, and contractors will likely encounter challenges. Fortunately, these challenges have solutions to guide contractors:

Bottom Line on Prevailing Wage Laws in Florida

Understanding and complying with prevailing wage laws in Florida is essential for both contractors and workers involved in public construction projects. While Florida itself does not have its own prevailing wage law, contractors working on federally funded projects are subject to federal laws such as the Davis-Bacon Act and the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA).

Compliance with prevailing wage laws entails paying the prevailing wage rates, preparing certified payroll reports, fulfilling posting requirements, and monitoring subcontractors. Non-compliance can result in penalties, such as back wages, liquidated damages, civil monetary penalties, debarment from government contracts, and legal action.

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