During the last week of tracking legislation, I ran across an interesting bill in California, AB 1294, which raised some questions and a few red flags – and really, the biggest worry I had was that the government would be defending your business – not you.
This bill deals specifically with prevailing wage issues in California. Currently, when there is a discrepancy over prevailing wage, payroll etc. on a public works project, the Labor Commissioner issues a penalty and an investigation. The employer being investigated has the right to request a review of the penalty through a hearing. The employer must prove if the basis for the penalty is correct.
In California, AB 1294 would now require the Labor Commissioner to prove the basis for the penalty. Now, you can look at this one of two ways. One, the Labor Commissioner will be too busy to do the investigative work and drop the penalty to save time. Or two, the state needs the money and the Commissioner will find something wrong no matter what, forcing you to pay the penalty regardless and the state makes some money – on your behalf.
Regardless of what reason may be true, it takes away your right as a business owner or manager to defend yourself, your business, and your profits.
Prevailing wage, regardless if it’s state or federally required, is a by-the-books deal. Certified payrolls, proper classification, ratios of apprentices to licensed installers, hours worked – all of this will be reviewed in any prevailing wage case. You should always be on your toes in any Davis-Bacon or prevailing wage job.
So far 2013 has been quiet in the states, but we are seeing some trends regarding prevailing wage and licensing that will be discussed in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I urge you to check out prevailing wage bills affecting the states you work in by visiting our interactive state map on legislative issues.