What is prevailing wage in California?

Prevailing wage in California is the minimum hourly rate employees earn on public work project. All workers employed on public works projects must be paid the prevailing wage. Our prevailing wage lawyer can protect your rights if you’re not paid the California prevailing wage.

Author: Brad Nakase, Attorney

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California’s Prevailing Wage Law requires workers on public work projects to be paid a minimum hourly rate. The State’s Department of Industrial Relations set the prevailing rates in California based on the geographic location and the type of work performed. The purpose of California prevailing wage laws are to ensure that government money does not undercut cities’ minimum wage laws and prevent a race to the lowest contract bid contractors.

As a prevailing wage lawyer, I am often asked the following questions:

How is California prevailing wage rate determined?

The California prevailing wage is determined by the California Department of Industrial Relations. The prevailing determination is based on the following factors:

  • City the public project is located
  • The journeyman type
  • Whether the public project is commercial, residential, or infrastructure such as road and highways.

If you are not paid the prevailing wage determined by the Department of Industrial Relations, please contact our prevailing rate lawyer, Brad Nakase, for a free consultation.

What is the purpose of a prevailing wage?

The purpose of California prevailing wage laws are to ensure that government money does not undercut cities’ minimum wage laws and prevent a race to the lowest contract bid contractors. The California Prevailing Wage Law is a way to ensure that workers on government projects were paid at prevailing market rates.

What are special prevailing wage determinations?

If a particular type of worker falls outside of being covered by the general determination, a special determination may apply. A request has to be done 45 days or more before a bid advertisement date. If you are not paid the special prevailing wage, please contact our prevailing rate lawyer, Brad Nakase, for a free consultation.

What are residential projects?

These are projects where single-family dwellings are subject to payments of prevailing wages. The dwelling can be either a home or an apartment and four stories or less. The payments come out of public funds, which can include federal funds as well.

What are commercial projects?

Commercial projects include anything that is non-residential. Besides new construction, repair work, reconstructions, alteration, and additions are all included. A commercial project can also include a residential project if it is five stories or higher.

What is overtime in California prevailing wage?

Workers must be paid the overtime prevailing wage rate for every additional hour worked past 40 hours in a single workweek. The hourly wage for work greater than eight hours per day and forty hours per week is one and one-half times the regular hourly rate. Overtime pay is paid at 1.5 times the basic rate of pay if the worker works more than 8 hours in a workday.

If you’re working off the clock you’re owed overtime prevailing rate even if the overtime is not approved. Working off the clock means that you’re doing work but not clocked in for work. If you’re not paid the overtime prevailing rate, please contact our prevailing rate lawyer to protect your rights.

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