Prevailing Wage Explained

The term “Prevailing Wage” needs to be properly understood in order to ensure that your rights are protected and you are paid correctly. A “prevailing wage” is the wage that a private contractor awarded a public contract for the construction or maintenance of a public project in New York State is required to pay its employees.  Prevailing wage rates are determined for each locality and differ according to occupation, title, and other factors. The requirement to pay prevailing wages to laborers, mechanics and other workers on public projects is set forth in the New York State Constitution.  New York State Labor Law also mandates prevailing wages for all building service workers. The State Department of Labor establishes prevailing wages for most localities.

In New York City, a prevailing wage is the wage and benefit rate set annually by the New York City Comptroller for each trade or occupation for employers performing public works projects and building service work on New York City government-funded work sites. This is the minimum amount that workers must receive and can include both an hourly rate and other fringe benefits.

What Employees Are Covered?

Prevailing wages are typically paid in industries where manual labor is used.  This includes construction, building, commercial cleaning, gardening, security, custodial, and a variety of others. Paying the prevailing wage is legally required in all City and State contracts that are over $2,000, but are also either required or generally used in many other situations.

What Is the Prevailing Wage in NYC?

The prevailing wage can vary based on what type of job is being done. The specific amount of the prevailing wage gets adjusted over time to account for inflation and other factors. Please keep in mind that this figure is just an approximate average.  Many positions will pay significantly more, and some can pay less.

What Fringe Benefits Are Included?

While the hourly rate is a good place to start when looking at prevailing wages, there are other factors that can impact how much someone will actually receive.  Fringe benefits, or “supplemental benefits,” such as medical care, can also be owed to an employee who has worked on a “prevailing wage” job. Knowing which types of benefits can count toward your overall compensation, and which type of benefits cannot, can help determine whether you are being paid according to the law.

What to Do if You Aren’t Receiving the Prevailing Wage

If you aren’t receiving the prevailing wage when you believe you should be, you need to take action. The first step is to speak with an employment law attorney to have us review your case and let you know if your rights are being violated. If so, we can work with you every step of the way to get you everything you are owed. Please contact us to schedule a consultation today.

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Arenson, Dittmar & Karban

Arenson, Dittmar & Karban is a leading employment litigation law firm in New York City. We have more than three decades of experience representing employees when they are treated unjustly by their employers. Our team has litigated successfully against multi-billion-dollar corporations and achieved record-breaking results for our clients.