Contractors that work on public construction projects in Ohio need to be very familiar with the state’s prevailing wage requirements. On public jobs of a certain size, the state sets minimum wages for specific types of workers. Failing to pay prevailing wages — and submit the corresponding certified payroll reports — can cause a delay in payments to contractors. But that’s not all: Contractors who don’t follow the rules can be subject to some pretty steep financial penalties.
When Ohio’s prevailing wage laws apply
Ohio’s prevailing wage statutes apply to publicly funded projects over certain thresholds in value. They require contractors to notify workers of the wages they will be receiving on these projects, file weekly certified payroll reports, and sign a final affidavit certifying that payment has been made according to prevailing wage laws.
Project type & size
Ohio doesn’t require prevailing wages to be paid on all types of construction projects. The rules only apply to public projects — those that are partially or fully funded through state funds. In addition, prevailing wages are only required if the total cost of the project is over a certain amount.
Thresholds for prevailing wages
Public construction projects in Ohio that exceed these costs are subject to prevailing wage requirements:
- Building construction (new): $250,000
- Building construction (reconstruction, repair, renovation, etc): $75,000
- Road or bridge construction (new): $93,292
- Road or bridge construction (reconstruction, repair, renovation, etc): $27,950
Ohio’s thresholds are adjusted every two years by the director of the Department of Commerce. They can’t increase or decrease more than 3% in any year.
Prevailing wage rates in Ohio
Prevailing wage rates are published by the Bureau of Wage and Hour Administration and must be posted on each job site. Visit Ohio.gov to view the latest prevailing wage rates (registration is required).
Each employee must receive notification of the rates they will be paid on a project before starting work. An executed copy of each employee’s notice must be sent to the state authority’s Prevailing Wage Coordinator.
Rates are given by county and worker classification. Here are some example wage rates for workers in Dayton, Ohio in Montgomery County (as of January 25, 2022):
|Commercial spray painter||$24.92||$12.00||$36.92|
Employees must be paid at least the total hourly rate plus fringe benefits. Any difference between the required rate and an employee’s standard rate is to be paid in cash. If their standard rate is more, they are to be paid their standard rate.
Employers may not deduct food, lodging, transportation, tools, or other expenses from an employee’s pay unless each deduction is approved by the employee and the Bureau of Wage and Hour Administration.
Ohio Prevailing Wage Coordinator
Before getting too far ahead of ourselves – who’s even keeping track? Who makes sure prevailing wage rules are followed? In Ohio, that would be the Prevailing Wage Coordinator.
Ohio expects the contracting public authority to take some active steps to ensure that Ohio prevailing wage rules are followed via these coordinators. There’s a section of the prevailing wage law titled “Wage coordinator; powers and duties,” which states:
“Each contracting public authority […] shall, no later than ten days before the first payment of wages is payable to any employee of any contractor or subcontractor, designate and appoint one of its own employees to serve as the prevailing wage coordinator during the life of the contract.“ORC Section 4115.071
This coordinator has several duties, including:
- Setting up and maintaining files of payroll reports and affidavits submitted by contractors and subcontractors
- Ascertaining the dates when employee wage payments are to be made
- Receiving a copy of each contractor’s or subcontractor’s full complete payroll
- Establishing and following procedures to monitor the compliance by each contractor and subcontractor with their duty to timely provide copies of payroll records
- Upon completion, receiving from each contractor or subcontractor the affidavit required prior to final payment
- Reporting any delinquencies to the chief officer of the contracting public authority and the director of commerce
As you can see from the above duties, the prevailing wage coordinator is supposed to act as a gatekeeper. They check to make sure everyone is following the rules.
Who gets paid prevailing wages?
All employees working on an Ohio project funded in whole or part by state funds are to be paid prevailing wages. This includes truck drivers, electricians, plumbers, etc., and company officers or partners that provide physical labor on site.
Note that federal projects in Ohio are subject to Davis-Bacon Act requirements, which establish prevailing wages for US government contracts. These rates differ from prevailing wage rates on state projects, as they are set by a different authority.
Apprentices are to be paid a portion of the prevailing wage and fringe rate, according to their percentage of completion of the apprenticeship program.
All hours worked over 40 in a workweek are to be paid at time and a half. Fringe benefits are to be paid at the straight-time rate for all hours worked, including overtime.
Certified payroll reports
Contractors must submit the first certified payroll report within two weeks of project commencement. After that, on projects of four months or less, reports are due every week. On projects over four months, they are due once a month.
A standardized certified payroll form is available to ensure that all the necessary information is included. All certified payroll reports must include:
- Employee name, address, and Social Security number
- Employee work classification
- Number of hours worked each day and total hours worked each week for each employee
- Hourly rate for each employee
- Gross amount earned on all projects during the pay period
- Total deductions from wages
- Net amount paid
How to submit certified payroll reports
All subcontractors submit their forms and reports to the general contractor. The GC collects all certified payroll reports from subcontractors and sends them to the presiding authority’s Prevailing Wage Coordinator. The coordinator is responsible for auditing the reports and ensuring that all documents have been completed correctly and turned in.
All contractors and subcontractors must complete a Payroll Dates Form notifying the presiding authority of their upcoming payroll dates during the project.
Each employee on the project must sign the Prevailing Wage Notification to Employee Form, letting them know how much they will be paid for working on the project.
Weekly certified payroll reports must be turned in by each contractor.
At the completion of the project, before final payment is made, each contractor must complete an Affidavit of Compliance, certifying that all wages were paid in compliance with prevailing wage laws.
Ohio form downloads
- Payroll Dates form (PDF)
- Prevailing Wage Notification Form to Employee (PDF)
- Certified Payroll Report form (XLS)
- Affidavit of Compliance form (PDF)
Filing a complaint
Anyone can file a complaint against a contractor who they believe is violating the rules. To file a complaint, fill out Ohio’s Prevailing Wage Complaint form.
Mail the completed form to:
Ohio Department of Commerce
Division of Industrial Compliance
Bureau of Wage & Hour Administration
P.O. Box 4009, 6606 Tussing Road
Ohio penalties for prevailing wage violations
Contractors in Ohio who fail to pay prevailing wages or report them appropriately must pay the value of the assessed wages – plus a penalty of 100% of the wages owed.
Intentional violation of the prevailing wage laws may result in prohibiting a contractor from working on public projects in the future. Intentional violation means a “willful, knowing, or deliberate disregard for” any provision of the prevailing wage law and includes, but is not limited to:
- Failure to submit payroll reports as required, or knowingly submitting false or erroneous reports
- Misclassification of employees for the purpose of reducing wages
- Misclassification of employees as independent contractors or as apprentices
- Failure to pay the prevailing wage
- Failure to comply with the allowable ratio of apprentices to skilled workers as required by the regulations established by Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Industrial Compliance and Labor, Bureau of Wage and Hour Administration
- Employing an officer, of a contractor or subcontractor, that is known to be prohibited from contracting, directly or indirectly, with a public authority