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Resources for Wisconsin prevailing wage contractors



Whether you are just starting out as a prevailing wage contractor or just looking to keep yourself updated, we have compiled these resources about state prevailing wage. Here are the most common questions of prevailing wage contractors and workers to help expand your knowledge!

If you are a contractor working for public works projects in the state of Wisconsin, then you will have three prevailing wage laws to note of:

(1)   Wisconsin Statute § 66.0903 – this statute covers projects negotiated by a local government unit;

(2)   Wisconsin Statute § 103.49 – this statute covers bids by a state agency except highway and bridge projects; and

(3)   Wisconsin Statute § 103.50 – this statute covers state highway and bridge projects bid by the Department of Transportation.

The first two statutes are enforced by the Department of Workforce Development while the third one is enforced by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Read on below for the commonly asked questions of contractors on Wisconsin Prevailing Wage laws. For help with fully compliant fringe benefit plans in Wisconsin please get in-touch via email or give us a call today!

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What makes up the prevailing wage rate in Wisconsin?

The prevailing wage rate for all job classifications includes the hourly basic rate plus the fringe benefits. You can pay the total wage rate in two ways:

(a) all cash in lieu of any fringe benefits; or

(b) a combination of cash and bona fide fringe benefits.

Are there special conditions on some of the covered workers of the Wisconsin Prevailing Wage Laws?

A laborer, worker, or truck driver employed to process, manufacture, pick up or deliver materials or products from a commercial establishment or from a facility that is not dedicated exclusively to public works projects shall not be entitled to receive compensation at the prevailing wage rate unless any two of the following conditions are met:

(a) said employee is employed to go to the source of mineral aggregate and deliver that aggregate to the public work project site by depositing the material directly to its final place; or

(b) said employee goes to the public work project site to pick up excavated material or spoil from the site and transport said materials away from the project site.

How much should a public construction cost in Wisconsin so that prevailing wage regulations will apply?

Public work projects in Wisconsin must have a total estimated cost equal or more than the following thresholds:

(a) Single-trade project (where single trade accounts to 85% or more of the total labor cost) must cost at least $48,000.

(b) Multiple-trade project (where no single trade accounts to 85% or more of the total labor cost) must cost at least $100,000 (unless the project falls under the third threshold).

(c) Multi-trade project of $234,000 applied to projects erected, built, repaired, improved, demolished, or remodeled for a city or college with a population less than 2400, or for a town.

How often are the prevailing wage rates in Wisconsin updated?
Wisconsin prevailing wage rate determinations for all trades are released by the DWD on or before the 30th of June in a year and will be effective for the remainder of the calendar year. Determinations released after June 30 are effective for 180 days.
Additional increases are considered as futures in the wage determinations. Prevailing wage determinations, after they are issued, are never updated, regardless of project duration, change in local wage conditions or change in CBA’s.
Is it possible to request for a change in prevailing wage after the determination is issued?
A state agency or a local government unit can request a review of the wage rates issued under WS § 66 or § 103.49. The request must be made by writing, and received by mail with a postmark date within 30 days from the issue of the wage determination. The request must be done 10 days before the awarding of the public works contract. The request must include the wage rate of the contested job classification.
An appeal to the Governor can be made if the DOT considers any rate issued under WS § 103.50 as incorrect.
Is there a regulation regarding overtime in the Wisconsin Prevailing Wage Laws?
Wisconsin prevailing wage law considers work hours in excess of 10 hours a day or 40 hours a week as overtime. Overtime must be paid at 1.5 times the basic hourly rate. This is only applicable to the hourly basic pay. Fringe benefits are still paid at straight time rate. If a specific fringe benefit is required to be paid at a different rate, it should be footnoted in the wage determination.
Is there a different rate for work incurred on weekends?
The Wisconsin prevailing wage law requires that any work done on the weekends must be paid 1.5 times the basic hourly rate pay.
Is there a different rate for work incurred on legal holidays?

Submission of certified payroll record on a weekly basis is usually The Wisconsin prevailing wage requires that any work incurred on the following 6 holidays must be paid 1.5 times the basic hourly rate pay:

(a) New Year’s Day

(b) Memorial Day

(c) July 4th

(d) Labor Day

(e) Thanksgiving

(f) Christmas

Additional days that require compensation of 1.5 times the basic hourly rate pay are:

(a) the day before a holiday if New Year’s Day, July 4 or Christmas falls on a Saturday

(b) the day after a holiday if New Year’s Day, July 4, or Christmas falls on a Sunday.

Is there a different rate for each working shift?
The DWD shall include provisions for the wage rates of the different shifts bases on the time the work is performed for state highway prevailing wage rates.
What are considered fringe benefits by the Wisconsin prevailing wage laws?

Wisconsin prevailing wage laws consider the following as fringe benefits:

  • health insurance;
  • vacation;
  • holiday pay;
  • pension; and
  • retirement contributions paid by the employer.

Meanwhile, the following shall not be considered fringe benefits because they are required by law:

  • social security;
  • unemployment insurance;
  • workers compensation;
  • payment for uniforms, lodging, meals, mileage;
  • use of a vehicle; and
  • riding time and waiting time.
Am I required to contribute to a training fund?
As per the Wisconsin Prevailing Wage Laws, a training fund contribution is a bona fide fringe benefit.
Is there a different rate for each working shift?

The apprentice that you hire must be registered either:

  • in a bona fide apprenticeship program administered by the US DOL,
  • a state agency recognized by the DOL, or
  • under the Wisconsin apprenticeship law.

The apprentice must also be approved by the Wisconsin DWD Bureau of Apprentice Standards.

You cannot pay an unregistered apprentice less than the prevailing wage rate. Apprentices must be paid a percentage of the journeyman’s hourly basic pay and hourly fringe benefit contributions as indicated in the Wisconsin prevailing wage rate determination. The percentage is stated in the apprentice’s contract or indenture.

There is no provision in the Wisconsin prevailing wage law on the number of apprentices that you can hire but the Local Joint Apprenticeship Committee and the DWD’s Bureau of Apprenticeship prescribe the ratio of apprentices to journeymen.

Am I required to pay for my prevailing wage workers’ travel and subsistence?
Travel time from the employee’s home to the job site is not paid. However, travel time from an employer’s place to a job site may be paid.
Subsistence is not part of the prevailing wage rate.
What are the licensing requirements that I need to note as a contractor?
The DWD does not require licenses of any trade or contractor. However, residential builders, electricians, plumbers, and other specialty trades, must have a state credential.
What are my duties as a contractor in Wisconsin?
Upon request by the DWD, you must submit certified payroll records for a 4-week period. The DWD must make these certified records public for inspection.
Upon request by the DWD, you must submit certified payroll records for a 4-week period. The DWD must make these certified records public for inspection.
If the DWD finds that a contractor failed to pay the prevailing wage rate, the contractor is required to pay the amount of due wages. In addition, liquidated damages will be given which is equal to 100% of the unpaid wages.
A violation of the prevailing wage laws will subject the contractor to a fine of up to $200 per day, or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both. Violations can also result in a forfeiture of $10 to $100 a day.
Under special circumstances, the DWD may recover up to an additional 50% of any due unpaid wages. Normally, this may only be recovered if a contractor failed to complete a self-audit.
What are the provisions for debarment under the Wisconsin prevailing wage law?

The following violations can cause debarment:

(a) Failing to pay an employee the proper prevailing wage rate

(b) Failing to pay an employee at least 1.5 times the proper hourly basic rate of pay overtime work

(c) Inducing any employee to give up, return, or waive a portion of their prevailing wage

(d) Deliberately destroying, perjuring, falsifying, or failing to keep a record of the payroll of the prevailing wage workers.


When working for public work projects in Wisconsin, it is your responsibility as a prevailing wage contractor to be compliant to the state’s prevailing wage laws. ARCHER JORDAN’s team of fringe benefits experts will help you be compliant with the law, while providing your prevailing wage employees with the perfect fringe benefit plans.
Call ARCHER JORDAN today for more information.

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