US Department of Labor initiatives promote ‘safety’ of industry workers’ wages, employer compliance during National Construction Safety Week
WASHINGTON – Hard-working people in the construction industry in the U.S. build our homes, erect our roads and bridges, and raise our buildings skyward. They also strive to expand and strengthen the nation’s information infrastructure to better connect us and make the country more resilient at times of crisis.
With many projects supported by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law gaining speed across the nation as temperatures rise and the ground softens, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is showing its commitment to ensuring the safety of workers’ wages during the annual celebration of National Construction Safety Week, May 2-6, by announcing new compliance assistance materials, including a toolkit in both English and Spanish languages, specifically to help construction workers understand their rights and inform employers about their legal obligations.
In addition, the division has launched a webpage to help construction employees and employers understand Davis-Bacon Act worker protections for projects created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“We are depending on construction industry workers to help us realize the promise and benefits of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Many work long hours in difficult conditions; and we owe it to them to ensure that their jobs are good jobs and that employers pay them fair wages and benefits,” explained Acting Wage and Hour Division Administrator Jessica Looman. “During National Construction Safety Week, we recognize that the safety and health of workers includes ensuring economic security for them and their families.”
In fiscal year 2021, the division identified more than $36 million in back wages owed to about 21,000 construction industry workers. In the same period, violations of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts – wage laws governing federally funded projects – recovered more than $12 million in back wages for more than 4,000 workers.
In the industry, division investigators commonly find violations related to the misclassification of workers as independent contractors, failing to pay employees work-related travel time and pre- and post-shift work, and not paying overtime as required for hours over 40 in a workweek. On federally funded projects, failing to pay the correct prevailing wage rate, improper calculations of required fringe benefits and not paying for all hours of work and making illegal deductions from wages are common violations.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects construction industry employment to grow at a rate of 6 percent from 2020 to 2030, and gain approximately 400,000 jobs. Employers who comply with labor laws will be better positioned to recruit and retain skilled workers.
“As the number of jobs grows in the coming decade, employers who deny workers their full wages and benefits either intentionally or not, may find it more difficult to attract and keep the people they need to make their businesses successful,” Looman added. “The Wage and Hour Division is committed to working with state and local agencies, employers and other industry stakeholders to promote compliance and help employers avoid the often-costly consequences of violations.”