PA Prevailing Wage Act - What Is Public Work?

The Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act (43 P.S. §165-1 et seq (the “Act”)) sets the minimum pay (including wages and fringe benefits) that workers on public construction projects must receive. The Act applies to public projects costing more than $25,000.

If you are in need of legal assistance understanding your rights under the PA Prevailing Wage Act, contact the knowledgeable and experienced Construction Attorneys of MBM Law.

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What Counts as Public Work?

Under the Act, public work is defined as, “…construction, reconstruction, demolition, alteration or repair work other than maintenance work.” Since the Act specifically excludes maintenance work from the definition of public work, the minimum prevailing wage rates do not apply to maintenance work.

Defining Maintenance Work

According to the Act, maintenance work is defined as, “…the repair of existing facilities when the size, type or extent of the facilities is not thereby changed or increased.” This sounds simple, but court decisions in Pennsylvania have made it tricky to distinguish between what is maintenance work and what is more extensive repair work that qualifies as public work requiring the payment of prevailing wages.

Distinguishing Between Maintenance and Construction Under PA’s Prevailing Wage Act

These examples show that replacing materials at the end of their useful life has usually been considered public work, meaning workers must be paid the prevailing wage. However, smaller tasks like patching a roof or refinishing a surface might still be seen as maintenance, since they don’t completely replace or extend the life of the structure.

MBM’s Construction attorneys can help your business stay compliant and avoid costly consequences.

Avoid Costly Mistakes: Penalties for PA Prevailing Wage Act Violations

Employers who do not comply with the Act can face harsh consequences, which include:

  • Being banned from public works projects for three years.
  • Having to back-pay the required prevailing wages they owe.
  • Possible legal action for damages.
  • Being kicked off the current project.
  • Criminal charges if they committed fraud.

Individuals and companies that make a mistake can correct it by promptly paying their workers the required prevailing wages. Not fixing the mistake can be seen as intentional non-compliance.

Requirements for Federally Funded Projects

Projects that get federal funding are covered under similar laws, including the Davis-Bacon Act, which also sets minimum wage requirements for federally funded construction work.

Get Legal Help For Your PA Construction Project

Don’t let confusion over maintenance work lead to costly penalties for your Pennsylvania construction project. MBM Law’s experienced construction attorneys can help you navigate the intricacies of the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act and ensure your workers are properly compensated.

The law firm Maiello, Brungo & Maiello, LLP can offer more detailed advice on how this applies to your specific construction project. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have legal construction questions for your business.

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Steven P. Engel

As a trial lawyer and litigator for 30 years, Steven Engel has prosecuted and defended hundreds of lawsuits. His area of specialization is in Construction Law and works with contractors, subcontractors, design professionals, and owners in construction-related matters. Engel is the Director of MBM’s Litigation Department.