On Tuesday, August 8 the Biden Administration's US Department of Labor (USDOL) announced finalized rules updating the Davis-Bacon and Related Act (DBRA) regulations. These adopted reforms to federally funded construction projects are as significant as they were overdue; this is the first significant DBRA reform in over 40 years.
These reforms will make it that much harder for low-road contractors to use wage theft as a business model to gain a competitive advantage in the public construction marketplace. These regulatory Davis-Bacon updates will meaningfully challenge the status quo which all too frequently fails to safeguard construction workers against financial exploitation.
This policy movement occurs as federal infrastructure dollars are beginning to provide investments in major construction projects across the country, and will be crucial in protecting the rights of workers on those jobsites.
Some highlights of these new regulations include:
Better reflects local wages by reestablishing the original, intended definition of prevailing wage.
• Providing broader authority to adopt state or local wage determinations when appropriate.
• Periodic wage rate updates of out-of-date wage determinations.
• Wage rates increase across life of projects, not locked in at original year's rates.
• Closed loophole where prevailing wages were unenforceable if rates were accidentally leftout of contract documents.
• Standardized debarment procedures across all Davis-Bacon and Related Acts.
• New anti-retaliation protections for whistleblowing workers.
• Enhanced cross-withholding empowers USDOL to recover back wages owed to workers as longas contractor has ongoing federal work.
• Formalizes requirement that Davis Bacon back wages owed to workers compounds interest.
The NYFFC applauds the USDOL on the creation of these new rules and regulations and looks forward to their implementation in the ongoing effort to “level the playing field” on federally funded construction.
A full summary of the updated rules is available on the USDOL Wage and Hour Division website.