An Introduction to Prevailing Wage & Certified Payroll Reporting

More than half the states in America have Prevailing Wage Laws; TSheets can help

TSheets makes tracking time for prevailing wages, a piece of cake. Using TSheets payroll item mapping feature, employers can easily map time spent on a specific project or job to a payroll item within QuickBooks. No more manually tracking or adjusting employee time for prevailing wages. To setup your TSheets account for Prevailing Wage, visit our online help, or contact our amazing customer experience team.

Thirty-three states and the federal government have prevailing wage laws

Prevailing wage laws and certified payroll probably isn't anyone's favorite topic and there is certainly a lot of controversy of the requirements to pay higher wages and submit certified payroll reports when working on government funded construction projects.

There are two sides to the prevailing wage argument:

  1. Prevailing Wage Laws are essential - they provide stability and ensure a better quality of work and make it more difficult for fly-by-nighters to come in from out of state and do a shoddy job and undercut local workers; according to Representative Peter King (R-Seaford)
  2. Mandated prevailing wages artificially inflate labor costs - they tend to reflect union collective bargaining rates and not what an employee might accept; according to Nicole Gelinas at a Manhattan Institute who studies urban economics and infrastructure.

Some history on the Davis-Bacon Act

The Federal Davis-Bacon Act was first developed in 1927 by two Republicans - Representative Robert L. Bacon from New York and Senator James J. Davis from Pennsylvania and was signed into law on March 3, 1931 under the Hoover administration.

Representative Bacon introduced the first version of the bill in 1927 after a contractor employing African-American workers from Alabama was awarded a contract to build a Veterans' Hospital in Long Island. He did so due to concerns about the conditions of the workers, displacement of local workers by migrant workers, and competitive pressure toward lower wages.

Approx 20 percent of all construction projects in the US are covered by one of these two Prevailing Wage Laws. Tweet This

The Davis-Bacon Act requires contractors to pay "prevailing wages" to employees on all federally funded construction projects over $2,000.00. Most often, the prevailing wage corresponds directly to union wages, especially in urban areas where union membership tends to be higher.

Approximately 20 percent of all construction projects in the U.S. are covered by either the Federal Davis-Bacon Act or Little Davis-Bacon/State Specific Prevailing Wage Laws.

Complying with Prevailing Wage & Certified Payroll Reporting Requirements

The submission of Certified Payroll Reports on a weekly basis is a requirement of working on Prevailing Wage projects.

If you're new to working on government construction projects, make sure your payroll clerk knows these 4 things. Tweet This

If you are new to working on government construction projects; you and your staff, especially your payroll clerk, need to learn about:

  • how prevailing wage is going to affect your business,
  • how you need to classify/pay your employees,
  • ways that your company can pay the fringe benefit portion of the prevailing wage,
  • and how to meet paper and/or electronic certified payroll reporting requirements.

Preparing Certified Payroll Reports can become quite complex:

  • 17 states follow the reporting rules/requirements of the U.S. Department of Labor - including the submission of the Federal WH-347 form (or equivalent.)
  • Know which Certified Payroll Reporting form to file and accurately complete the required info to get paid on time. Tweet This
  • 13 States have their own Little Davis-Bacon/State Prevailing Wage requirements and require state specific forms when projects are funded with state money, the Federal form will be required when the construction project is funded with Federal dollars.
  • 20 states have multiple State Agencies providing the mandates for Little Davis-Bacon/State Prevailing Wage requirements and certified payroll reporting forms, electronic certified payroll reporting requirements, and/or the submission of the Federal WH-347 form

Make sure that you know which Certified Payroll Reporting form must be filed and how to accurately complete the required information so that you are paid in a timely fashion.


Long Island Newsday, Wikipedia, Certified Payroll/Prevailing Wage Reporting Requirements by State, Certified Payroll Training Webinar

About the Author

Time Tracking and Job Cost Training

Nancy Smyth has supported Intuit products and end users since 1986, with her primary focus being commercial/government construction contractors who utilize QuickBooks Financial Software for their accounting needs. She has been a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor since the inception of the program in 1999; and as President of Sunburst Software Solutions, Inc., she is a key player in the development of several QuickBooks Add-Ons for the construction industry. She is also the author of the QuickBooks for Contractors blog and the Learn to use QuickBooks in your construction business website. To learn more about automating certified payroll, AIA Billing and Payroll Wage Management, visit

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