Published date: 02/03/2022

As the awarding body of public works construction projects, an agency should understand its responsibilities in upholding prevailing wage compliance. But their success in doing so often also hinges on the processes they put in place to not only monitor their contractors, but to help them.

We’ve said it here before: one of the many responsibilities of an awarding body is to include the correct wage determination(s) in their contracts. And when multiple are required, written guidance should be provided to contractors so that they can be properly equipped to comply. Sooner or later, however, a project comes along where there is an oversight. We are, after all, only human.

What happens when a craft or classification is omitted from a determination?

First of all, if you’re not sure what a wage determination, craft, or classification is, you should check out a previous article where we covered the basics and discussed the contractor’s conformance process. Side note: it’s also never a bad thing to understand their perspective on this process as well.

Now, back to that oversight… In a perfect world, the scope of work for every single project would be so well defined and understood that the applicable wage determination(s) would cover every different classification of work being performed on the job. Of course, in reality, this doesn’t always happen 100% of the time. Yet, even if the contractor isn’t provided with the correct rate for a worker’s classification, it doesn’t mean they can simply pay the employee whatever they want. They are responsible for paying the correct rate – even it if wasn’t initially provided by the awarding body. The contractor resolves this issue by submitting a conformance request. This is where the awarding body comes in to play.

The SF-1444 form

The contractor needs to send a written conformance request (typically submitted via the SF-1444 form) to the awarding body to help provide corrective action. The thing to keep in mind is that the request ultimately needs to make its way to the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) for a resolution.

The awarding body will first receive the form from the prime contractor and then is tasked with reviewing it for completeness. This includes determining whether the classifications and rates suggested by the contractor are reasonable. It will then need to be signed off and submitted to the USDOL for review. It should also be noted that if the conformance was initiated by a subcontractor, it needs to follow the “chain of command” and work its way up through both the prime contractor and awarding body before being decided upon by the USDOL.

Helping the Contractor

Understanding this chain above provides a better perspective on the timeframe it might take for the contractor to get an answer. Remember, maintaining compliance is much more successful when you’re not only monitoring your contractors, but helping them as well. Furthermore, it’s much easier to follow through on getting a contractor’s question answered than it is to launch an investigation on a project later down the road.

Keeping this in mind, the awarding body should follow up with the USDOL after 30 days if there was no response on the status of the conformance request. It is not approved or denied until they say so, and the awarding body is the communication conduit between the USDOL and the contractor(s) in case more clarifying information is needed.

If you’d like to learn more about wage determinations, the conformance process, and other components of prevailing wage compliance, check out: https://lcptracker.com/academy/. You can also learn about electronic tools that can help agencies enforce compliance by visiting https://lcptracker.com/solutions/lcptracker.

These materials are being issued with the understanding that LCPtracker is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional services, and is providing these for informational purposes only. If legal, accounting or tax expert assistance is required, the services of a competent legal, accounting or tax professional should be sought.

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