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What is the Prevailing Wage Law?

As a laborer in Kansas City, it may be easy to think that no one is looking out for your best interests. This can give rise to concerns about your employer exploiting you, particularly over your wages. Yet laws are in place to help ensure you are compensated fairly for the work you do. If you happen to work in the construction industry for a firm that regularly is involved in public works construction projects, you are covered under Missouri's Prevailing Wage Law. 

What is the Prevailing Wage Law? It establishes a minimum wage rate that your employer must pay you if you are involved in the construction of bridges, roads, government buildings and other public works projects. The specific rate differs from county-to-county (according to the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, it currently ranges from $18.06 for traffic control service drivers to $78.73 for elevator constructors in Jackson County). The wage rate must be incorporated into the contract details of each project, and thus must be posted for you and your coworkers to review. 

Keep in mind that the total prevailing wage rate is not necessarily the hourly wage rate. Rather, it is combination of that plus the amount allowed for any fringe benefits. These may include: 

  • Health insurance
  • Vacation hours
  • Training programs
  • Pension plans

If your employer does not offer any fringe benefits, it is required to pay you the full fringe benefit rate in cash on your paycheck so that you may secure them on your own. Travel, meal and equipment costs are not considered to be fringe benefits. 

Remember that the prevailing wage is only the minimum amount your employer must pay you on a public works project. You and your coworkers are free to try and negotiate a higher compensation rate if you so choose. 

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