The Davis-Bacon Act, which applies to federally funded or assisted construction projects, does not specifically outline apprenticeship requirements. However, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) may issue apprenticeship regulations and standards separately.

Apprenticeship Must Comply with Prevailing Wage Rates

When apprentices are employed on Davis-Bacon projects, their wages must comply with the prevailing wage rates for the classification of work they perform, as determined by the Secretary of Labor.

Consult Applicable Wage Determination for Apprenticeship

It’s important to note that the specific requirements for apprenticeship programs on Davis-Bacon jobs may vary, and contractors should consult the applicable wage determination and any additional regulations issued by the DOL or other relevant authorities. Contractors are generally encouraged to engage in apprenticeship programs to promote workforce development and provide training opportunities, but the specific details may be governed by state or local laws and the rules of the apprenticeship program itself.


Apprenticeship Requirements

Apprentices can work on jobs that have Davis Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) requirements, as long as they are employed and individually registered in an apprenticeship program through one of the following agencies:

Employees that are properly certified to be on a 90-day probationary employment period as apprentices are also eligible to work on DBRA jobs.

construction worker davis-bacon

Apprentices and trainees registered in approved programs are the only workers who can be paid less than the prevailing wage rate for their craft on DBRA jobs. However, they must be paid based on a wage schedule in an approved program, which is normally a percentage of the prevailing wage rate for a journeyman. Private apprentice rates and federal Davis Bacon apprentice rates should be compared to each other — it is often recommended to pay the higher of the two rates.  

Prevailing Wage Notes

If apprentices do not get properly registered based on the guidelines of a program or there is a higher ratio of apprentices to journeymen on a job site, they must be paid the applicable prevailing wage for the work they perform. A “pre-apprentice” who is not registered in an approved program for a probationary apprenticeship is not considered to be an “apprentice” and must be paid the full journeyman’s rate on the wage decision for the classification of work they perform.

Laptop with davis-bacon software for business

Are there mandatory apprenticeship requirements for Davis Bacon jobs?

While there isn’t a compulsory obligation to employ apprentices on Federal Davis-Bacon jobs, it’s essential to recognize that state prevailing wage laws may introduce additional stipulations. For example, in California, contractors are mandated to engage apprentices for contracts exceeding $30,000, unless the specific craft or trade involved does not necessitate the utilization of apprentices.

These state-specific nuances underscore the importance of staying informed about regional regulations that may influence apprenticeship requirements, ensuring comprehensive compliance with both federal and state standards in the realm of prevailing wage laws.

Learn more about the Davis Bacon requirements

At eBacon, we make sure our clients and our services are always up to date on the latest prevailing wage laws, including the Davis Bacon Act. Reach out to us today for a free consultation to see how you can stay compliant and save money.

What is a Davis-Bacon laborer?

A Davis-Bacon laborer refers to a worker employed on a federally funded construction project subject to the Davis-Bacon Act. The Davis-Bacon Act, enacted in 1931, requires contractors and subcontractors working on government construction contracts exceeding a specified dollar amount to pay their laborers and mechanics “prevailing wages” for the locality where the work is performed. These prevailing wages are determined by the U.S. Department of Labor based on the wages and fringe benefits typically paid to workers in similar projects in the area. Therefore, a Davis-Bacon laborer is a construction worker who receives wages and benefits per the prevailing rates established under the Davis-Bacon Act.

Why do they call it Davis Bacon wages?

The term “Davis-Bacon wages” is derived from the Davis-Bacon Act, which was named after its sponsors, Senator James J. Davis of Pennsylvania and Representative Robert L. Bacon of New York. The Davis-Bacon Act was enacted in 1931 during the Great Depression to address concerns about fair wages and competition in the construction industry.

Under the Davis-Bacon Act, contractors and subcontractors working on federally funded construction projects are required to pay their laborers and mechanics prevailing wages and fringe benefits, which are determined by the U.S. Department of Labor. These wages are meant to reflect the rates typically paid to workers in the same locality for similar projects. The Act aims to prevent the exploitation of workers and ensure that government-funded construction projects contribute to fair labor standards and local economic conditions.

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The material presented here is educational in nature and is not intended to be, nor should be relied upon, as legal or financial advice. Please consult with an attorney or financial professional for advice.