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Prevailing Wages in New York and New Jersey

According to the New York State Constitution no laborer, worker or mechanic, that is employed by a contractor or sub-contractor working on any public works project, shall be paid less than the prevailing wage rate in the same trade or occupation. In New Jersey, the Prevailing Wage Act establishes a prevailing wage level for workers engaged in public works.  The prevailing wage acts in New York and New Jersey were enacted to safeguard workers and to protect them as well as their employers from the effects of serious and unfair competition resulting from differing wage levels which necessarily effect workplace safety.

Public work means any construction, reconstruction, demolition, alteration or repair work, or maintenance work including painting and decorating, done under contract and paid for in whole or in part out of the funds of the public body.

Unlike the minimum wage, many construction workers engaged in public works projects are unaware that the prevailing wage which they are supposed to be paid can often be in excess of$100 per hour with the supplement depending on the classification.  As such, even workers who believe they are being well compensated can still be owed in excess of $100,000 in pay depending on the rate and the duration of their employment.

Furthermore, employees on public works projects are not permitted to work more than 8 hours a day or five days a week, except in cases of “extraordinary emergency.” To obtain emergency status, an application must be made to the State Commissioner of Labor.  Rest periods of 20 minutes or less are considered time worked and may not be deducted from the employee’s pay.

Overtime: In the event you work in excess of 8 hours in a single day, you must be paid overtime regardless of whether you worked in excess of 40 hours in a week. Overtime must be paid for excess hours even if you are called to work less than 5 days in a given week or do not reach a maximum of 40 hours that week.

Holidays: In the event you work on any day that is considered a legal holiday, you must be paid the holiday premium (which can be from 1½ to double your regular rate of pay).  Holidays that fall on weekends are observed on Friday or Monday. When a holiday falls on Sunday, the following Monday shall be considered a holiday and all work performed on either day shall be at the double time rate. When a holiday falls on Saturday, the preceding Friday shall be considered a holiday and all work performed on either day shall be at the double time rate.

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