More than 200 AGC members heard about significant changes to the prevailing wage programs during recent presentations held around the state. AGC thanks Jim Christensen, Industrial Statistician and Program Manager of the Prevailing-Wage Program, and Chuck Ziegert, Industrial Relations Specialist, for leading presentations in Seattle, Fife, Vancouver, Yakima and Burlington.
The State Legislature passed a variety of bills impacting the prevailing wage program over the last couple of years. Some of those changes are in effect, others soon will be. Among the notable changes discussed by Christensen are:
- Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, contractors and subcontractors will be required to submit certified payrolls to L&I at least once a month. The certified payrolls should be submitted through L&I’s online system, unless other arrangements are made with L&I.
- Civil penalties for prevailing wage violations have been increased dramatically, to $5000 or 50% of the unpaid wages, whichever is greater, plus one percent interest per month.
- A shorter path to debarment is now in place. After a complaint is filed and before a final determination is made, if the contractor pays the unpaid wages plus interest and penalties of $1000 or 20% of the total violation, the matter is resolved without further penalty. However, if the contractor uses this option twice in a five-year period, the contractor is subject to the higher penalty amounts ad is barred from bidding for two years. L&I can still waive penalties for inadvertent errors.
- Legislative changes as well as increased enforcement efforts are expected to lead to significantly more notices of violations. Currently about 35 NOVs are issued per year. Starting next year when legislative changes take full effect, that number is expected to increase to more than 200.
- Among technological improvements within the prevailing wage system are the “contractor portal.” For example through the portal, prime contractors can tell which subs have or have not submitted intents, and they can see the certified payrolls of all subs.
- Common types of violations that L&I is seeing include very high benefit rates (e.g., $30+ per hour), benefits that are not appropriately annualized, and the claiming of unallowable benefits such as per diem, company vehicle usage and cell phone reimbursement.
- L&I prevailing wage staff are always available to answer questions posed by contractors about compliance and other matters. Contractors shouldn’t hesitate to call 360.902.5335 or email PW1@lni.wa.gov.
For more information, contact AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood, 360.352.5000.