Davis Bacon Program

The Davis Bacon Program, also referred to as the Davis-Bacon Act or DBA (40 U.S.C. §§ 3141 – 3148), was initially enacted in 1931 to provide wage protection to construction workers. Specifically, the DBA requires federal contractors to pay construction workers the prevailing local wage rate, thereby protecting local construction workers from contractors who bid less than the local wage rate on a construction project. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and federal contracting agencies have joint responsibility for enforcement of the DBA.


The DBA applies to contracts involving the construction of public buildings and works located in the United States and funded by the U.S. government. The initial contracts must also require the skills of mechanics or laborers and total at least $2,000.

Types of Buildings or Work

The type of building might be a federal office building or place of business. The type of work could include absolute construction or repair of a building. Generally, the work being performed must be at the actual site — not off-site. However, if a majority of the work is done off-site based on the details of the contract, then that will establish this particular requirement.

Mechanics and Laborers

The DBA uses the terms “mechanics” and “laborers” to define construction workers who engage in manual labor as defined under 29 C.F.R. § 5.2(n). The DBA protects those who meet the criteria. Other personnel on such construction projects — trainees, security officers working on-site, truck drivers, or plumbers, for example — might also have protection. Those not protected include those who primarily handle secretarial or management duties, such as project managers or engineers.

Projects in Excess of $2,000

This monetary threshold applies to the initial funding of the construction project. Therefore, if the initial contract totals at least $2,000, then any subcontracts entered into thereafter, regardless of the amount, receive protection under the DBA.

The DBA simply applies protections to construction workers and other local contractors, and the nuances and complexities involving these contracts can be quite high. In order to understand which protections you have or which requirements you must abide by under the DBA, you should speak to a qualified attorney who can assist you in identifying the scope and coverage of your rights and responsibilities.


The DBA requires contractors to pay local construction workers current wage rates and provide fringe benefits in amounts determined by the DOL Wage and Hours Division and the Secretary of Labor. This includes quality pay for those working under the initial contract and subsequent subcontracts entered into, along with paid sick leave. The fringe benefits offered include insurance (health, life, and disability), pension plans, and monetary relief for work-related injuries or illnesses.

In order to identify the prevailing wage rate, the DOL and federal contracting agencies compare the wage being paid to more than 50 percent of those operating in a similar or identical industry who perform the same type of work in the same geographical location during the same period of time.

Contact Us

If you need assistance with an issue relating to the DBA, Wage and Hour Laws, Prevailing Wage Litigation or if you want to learn more about your rights and responsibilities, call lawyer, Seth Robbins at Robbins Law Group, PLLC, to learn more today.