Presto, chango! – Turning prevailing wages into employee benefits
Abstract: As contractors vie for new public works projects, the prevailing wage — the minimum wage contractors generally are required to pay employees working on projects initiated by public agencies — is getting more attention. For each job, the prevailing wage is divided into a minimum basic hourly rate and a fringe benefit amount. Although contractors are required to pay their employees the base rate in cash, the fringe benefit portion can be paid in cash or in the form of a “bona fide” benefit plan. To avoid the complexities, it may be a little easier for a business to pay the entire prevailing wage in cash, but it’s much more expensive. This article shows why, while a sidebar discusses the documentation needed in the event of a Department of Labor audit of a prevailing wage plan.