California Department of Transportation
 

Architectural and Engineering FAQ's

 

1. For billing purposes, several of the consultants assume that benefits are worth an average hourly equivalent for all employees. In reality, each employee earns benefits at a different rate due to different medical, vacation, etc. These benefits also vary from month to month. Can we use an average value for the benefits or a different value for each employee, each month? How often do we need to change these benefit amounts?

2. In NorCal, Area 1 and Area 2 are difficult to tell apart. Some counties are divided according to a metes and bounds description. Is the correct Area determined by where the office is or where the person works? Is there a map showing these areas?

3. How should we bill for multiple shift work?

4. Special shift work (after 5 PM and before 6AM) is paid at a higher rate per the DIR. How should we document time of day worked and does this special shift pay apply?

5. Can Prevailing Wage rates increase more than 5% per year?

6. How do we document retroactive PW adjustments?

7. If an Office Engineer goes out to the field are they automatically on Prevailing Wage? What are the minimum hours paid at PW?

8. Which holiday schedule applies, the Consultants or the Prevailing Wage?

9. Can we pay "Apprenticeship rates" for less experienced inspectors?

10. Some employees receive no benefits and a higher hourly rate. How should they be billed?

11. What will the Audits Division be auditing regarding Prevailing Wages at the end of the contract?

12. Are any further adjustments required in the rate of pay for work classifications used on a project that continues beyond the expiration date of the final predetermined increase for the Determinations with double asterisks (**) of those classifications?

1. Q. For billing purposes, several of the consultants assume that benefits are worth an average hourly equivalent for all employees. In reality, each employee earns benefits at a different rate due to different medical, vacation, etc. These benefits also vary from month to month. Can we use an average value for the benefits or a different value for each employee, each month? How often do we need to change these benefit amounts?
A. To be in full compliance with prevailing wage requirements consultant employers must pay their covered employees not less than both the Basic Hourly Rate and the Total Hourly Rate. While it is acceptable for employers to pay all fringe benefits in cash, only "…employer payments for health and welfare, pension, vacation, travel, subsistence, and apprenticeship or other training programs authorized by Labor Code Section 3093…" are considered as qualified benefits. Those employer payments for employee benefits are further described in Section 1773.1 of the Labor Code. Averaging benefit payments does not meet the prevailing wage requirement, as benefits are to be recorded on an hourly basis for each week employed. If employer payments for a qualified benefit are made at a different frequency, such as monthly, they need to be pro-rated and shown as an hourly payment on the Certified Payroll (CPR) or on the Fringe Benefit (FB) Statement indicating the employer is paying the FB directly. The benefit amount may change with the Department of Industrial Relations' (DIR) wage determinations that are typically issued in February and August of each year. They may also change upon the filing of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for the specified craft or classification, if filed 30 days prior to the call for bids for the contract in question.

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2. Q. In NorCal, Area 1 and Area 2 are difficult to tell apart. Some counties are divided according to a metes and bounds description. Is the correct Area determined by where the office is or where the person works? Is there a map showing these areas?
A. Prevailing wages are based on where the work is performed (with the exception of being outside of the boundaries of California). The Associated General Contractors (AGC) produces and sells maps depicting the subsistence areas. The AGC California web-site is: http://www.agc-ca.org/home.htm

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3. Q. How should we bill for multiple shift work?
A. The CBA will clarify work shifts. There are two wage rate determinations per DIR (regular shift, and special single and second shift). Use whichever wage determination applies to the time frame work was performed. Overtime as required by the Labor Code is addressed in the next question.

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4. Q. Special shift work (after 5 PM and before 6AM) is paid at a higher rate per the DIR. How should we document time of day worked and does this special shift pay apply?
A. If the bargaining agreement states work begun after 5:00 p.m. is a special shift, then you would use the special single and second shift wage rate determination. For example, Operating Engineers, South, consider work done between 6:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. a "single shift." Shifts that cover more than one day use the first day for documentation on the CPR. If an employee had a shift from 8pm to 4am, overtime would be paid for any hours worked beyond 8 hours in any calendar day.

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5. Q. Can Prevailing Wage rates increase more than 5% per year? A. Possibly. The Division of Labor Standards and Research (DLSR) of DIR conducts periodic surveys of prevailing wages by trade and location. Labor Code 1770 authorizes the Director of the DIR to set prevailing wages. Section 1773 of the Code describes what is considered in determining the rate and the role that employers may play in rate setting. Section 1773.4 describes the procedure to request a review of a rate. A contractor can pay an employee more than the prevailing wage rate. When an escalation clause is included in the contract, the Department will pay more when the prevailing wages increase. However, there will be no such provision if a worker gets an increase because of an anniversary date or other employer driven increase.

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6. Q. How do we document retroactive PW adjustments?
A. An employer should submit supplemental (corrected) payrolls to adjust any underpayment of prevailing wages.

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7. Q. If an Office Engineer goes out to the field are they automatically on Prevailing Wage? What are the minimum hours paid at PW?
A. Not automatically. If they do work that is covered and are in the field for a substantial period of time, the employee should be paid prevailing wages. If the amount of time is incidental, it should not be covered and prevailing wages wouldn't apply. As an example, if a professional gets on a piece of equipment to demonstrate its use, it is not covered. If a professional performs work with equipment, it would be covered. The minimum number of work hours that requires the payment of prevailing wages has not been established. Construction inspection, surveying, and materials and soils testing are consultant services that are covered at this time.

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8. Q. Which holiday schedule applies, the Consultants or the Prevailing Wage?
A. Covered employees are due the Holiday Hourly Rate for all holidays in the CBA on file with the Director of DIR, that is applicable to the particular craft, classification, or type of worker employed on the project. You may obtain the holiday provisions for the current determinations on the Internet at http://www.dir.ca.gov/DLSR/PWD.

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9. Q. Can we pay "Apprenticeship rates" for less experienced inspectors?
A. Apprentices can only be used if they are certified by Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) and they are party to a written apprentice agreement. Otherwise an employer must pay journeyman wages. Additionally, authorized ratios of apprentices to journey-level workers must be adhered to or those employees in excess of the ratio must be paid at the journeyman rate.

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10. Q.Some employees receive no benefits and a higher hourly rate. How should they be billed?
A. An employer may choose to pay cash in lieu of fringe benefits. However, both the Basic Hourly Rate and the Total Hourly Rate must be met.

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11. Q. What will the Audits Division be auditing regarding Prevailing Wages at the end of the contract?
A. The Audits and Investigations Division will perform applicable pre- and post-award audits; however, those audits are not for the purpose of enforcing the Labor Code.

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12. Q. Are any further adjustments required in the rate of pay for work classifications used on a project that continues beyond the expiration date of the final predetermined increase for the Determinations with double asterisks (**) of those classifications? A. No. After the last predetermined increase goes into effect there are no further increases for the life of the Determination and the project. Work classifications covered by specific Determinations (**) which are in effect on the bid advertisement or request for qualification date, remain covered by that Determination even if the duration of the project exceeds the last predetermined increase date.

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