California's prevailing wage laws generally require that persons employed on public works receive "not less than the general prevailing rate of per diem wages for work of a similar character in the locality in which the public work is performed." The prevailing wage laws are in place to ensure minimum labor standards for workers and promote an equal playing field among contractors. "Public works" includes "[c]onstruction, alteration, demolition, installation, or repair work done under contract and paid for in whole or in part out of public funds." Further, prevailing wage laws are applicable "to contracts let for maintenance work."
A contractor or subcontractor who pays less than the established prevailing rate when required to do so subjects itself to significant consequences including payment of the required prevailing wages that were not paid, penalties, suspension from bidding on or working on public works for up to three years and even criminal prosecution for failing to maintain payroll records demonstrating compliance. Further, failure to pay prevailing wages can be a basis for a state agency to withhold payment.
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