Frequently Asked Questions on Public Works

General Information

  1. What does public works mean?
    Under the Labor Code, public works in general refers to:
    • Construction, alteration, demolition, installation, maintenance, or repair work,
    • Done under contract, and
    • Paid for in whole or in part out of public funds
    It can include preconstruction and post-construction activities related to a public works project.
  2. What are prevailing wages, and who must receive them?
    All workers employed on public works projects must be paid the prevailing wage determined by the Director of the DIR according to the type of work and location of the project. The prevailing wage rates are usually, but not always, based on rates specified in collective bargaining agreements.

Contractors and Contractor Registration

  1. Who is a public works contractor?
    A public works contractor is anyone who bids on or enters into a contract to perform work that requires the payment of prevailing wages. It includes subcontractors who have entered into a contract with another contractor to perform a portion of the work on a public works project. It includes sole proprietors and brokers who are responsible for performing work on a public works project, even if they do not have employees or will not use their own employees to perform the work.
  2. Who needs to register as a public works contractor?
    Anyone who fits within the definition of public works contractor (above) is required to register with the DIR.
  3. Is a contractor who only does Davis-Bacon work under federal contracts required to register?
    Registration is required only to bid or work on public works projects that are subject to the prevailing wage requirements of the State of California. Registration is not required for projects that are awarded by and under the complete control of the federal government. However, federally funded or assisted projects that are controlled or carried out by awarding bodies in California are subject to the state's prevailing wage laws and therefore require registration.
  4. Are there any exceptions to the registration requirement?
    The contractor registration requirement does not apply to contractors working solely on public works projects awarded prior to April 1, 2015. Some exceptions allow contractors to bid on federally funded projects or submit joint venture bids without first being registered, as long as the contractors that are parties to the joint venture and the joint venture are registered at the time the contract is awarded.
  5. Who is eligible to register?
    Contractors must meet the following requirements to register:
    • Have workers' compensation coverage for any employees and only use subcontractors who are registered public works contractors.
    • Have a Contractors State License Board license if applicable to trade.
    • Have no delinquent unpaid wage or penalty assessments owed to any employee or enforcement agency.
    • Not be under federal or state debarment.
    • Not be in prior violation of this registration requirement once it becomes effective. However, for the first violation in a 12-month period, a contractor may still qualify for registration by paying an additional penalty.
  6. How much does registration cost, and how long does it last?
    Registration costs $300 and covers one fiscal year (July 1–June 30), regardless of the date on which a contractor registers. Registration is renewable annually.
  7. What if I don't register (i.e., what are the consequences of noncompliance)?
    Contractors who are required to register but fail to do so are ineligible to bid or work on a public works contract and can be removed from any public works project on which they currently are working. For a single violation in a 12-month period, a contractor who is otherwise eligible may still register by paying a $2,000 penalty in addition to the $300 registration fee. Registered contractors who inadvertently fail to renew by June 30, but continue to work on public works after that date, have a 90-day grace period to renew retroactively by paying a $300 penalty in addition to the registration renewal fee.
  8. How long does it take for DIR to process contractor registrations, verify submitted information, and post contractor information in the registration list that is accessible online?
    This process can take less than 24 hours if registration fees (including penalties, if applicable) are paid by credit card. Verification of payment by other means can take up to eight weeks.
  9. How can a list of all registered contractors be obtained?
    The name and registration number of any contractor who has registered with the DIR can be found using the public works contractor search tool. An up-to-date list of all registered contractors can be obtained by entering the percentage symbol, %, in the "Contractor Legal Name" field.
  10. I forgot to print out the contractor coupon, can I still mail in the check or do I have to start over? If I can still mail in the check, where should I mail it to?
    You do not need to start over. You may mail the check to: State of California, Department of Industrial Relations, Public Works Contractor Registration Unit, P.O. Box 511215, Los Angeles, California 90051-3013. Please include the contractor registration number.

Awarding Bodies

  1. What is an awarding body?
    An awarding body is the entity that awards a contract for public works and is sometimes known as the project owner. The awarding body can be any kind of public agency (state, county, city, school board, water district, etc.) or a private entity using public funds (Labor Code, section 1722).
  2. Do all trades need to be identified on the PWC-100 at the time projects are registered?
    Awarding bodies should list information for all trades identified when they register projects (using the PWC-100 form). Awarding bodies are not required to provide information that is not available at the time of project registration.
  3. What happens if an awarding body does not register a project within five days of awarding the contract for a public works project?
    Failure to provide timely notice can jeopardize an awarding body's ability to obtain state funding for a project. It can also compromise important objectives of the public works laws. An official who intentionally ignores this requirement may be subject to criminal prosecution.
  4. If an awarding body has an annual open purchase order for over $1,000 for a registered contractor, does it need to report that contract only once a year?
    Yes, an awarding body can report the master agreement to comply with the PWC-100 notice requirements. Individual task orders do not need to be reported.
  5. What if an awarding body has a single small job for $250 or a series of jobs with the same contractor/vendor that total over $1,000?
    Prevailing wage requirements apply to public works projects over $1,000. The law does not permit jobs to be parceled in order to avoid the $1,000 threshold. If the awarding body knows that total yearly project costs or projects awarded to the same vendor will exceed $1,000, that vendor must be registered with the DIR as a public works contractor, and the contract for those projects should be registered using the PWC-100 form.
  6. If an agency is subject to the California Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Act (Public Contract Code, section 22002), which excludes "maintenance work" from its definition of "public project," do contractors hired for maintenance work still need to register? Are public agencies required to report projects that do not go through the competitive bidding process, such as emergency work and maintenance projects?
    Public agencies are required to report maintenance projects and emergency work, even if they haven't conducted a bidding process. Contractors on maintenance projects that are part of public works projects are also required to register with the DIR, even if the awarding body is subject to the California Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Act.
  7. What is the process for projects funded through Proposition 84? Is the contracting agency required to register (i.e., fill out the PWC-100 form), and will the contractors and subcontractors be required to submit/upload certified payroll records to the Labor Commissioner?
    Awarding bodies must provide project information to DIR using the PWC-100 form on all public works projects regardless of the funding source, including projects funded by Proposition 84. Certified payroll records are required for Proposition 84 projects, and awarding bodies are still required to have a DIR-approved Labor Compliance Program (LCP) for those projects. Contractors on these Proposition 84 projects must submit certified payroll records to both the DIR and the LCP.
  8. If an awarding body is awarded a contract directly by a federal agency, must it comply with California public works law?
    The awarding body must pay careful attention to whether the project is administered and controlled by the federal agency or the federal agency is only providing financial support or assistance to a project under the direction and control of a state or local agency. California's prevailing wage requirements do not apply to projects awarded by and under the complete control of the federal government. However, federally funded or assisted projects that are controlled or carried out by awarding bodies in California, including most highway construction projects, are subject to the state's prevailing wage laws. Those projects must comply with state requirements, including contractor and project registration, reporting certified payroll records, and payment of California's prevailing wage rates, if they exceed corresponding Davis-Bacon rates.
  9. Are awarding bodies required to use registered contractors or submit a PWC-100 for any of the following?
    • Professional service contracts
    • Mechanics who service vehicles at the local dealership or auto shop
    • Engineering firms or construction managers hired to manage public works projects
    • Design consultants, architects, and engineers performing professional design services
    • Material or product suppliers
    • BIM (Building Information Modeling) or CAD (Computer-Aided Design) consultants
    • Consultants providing Division of State Architect inspection services;
    • Trucking companies and truck drivers
    • Furniture dealers who deliver and install furniture
    • Community Conservation Corps certified by the California Conservation Corps
    Awarding bodies are required to use registered contractors and register the project for any work subject to prevailing wage requirements. California's public works prevailing wage requirements extend broadly to workers employed "in the execution of the public works contract" (Labor Code, section 1774). Coverage is not necessarily limited to work performed at the construction site by those in traditional construction trades. Awarding bodies and other interested parties can ask DIR's Director to make a formal determination on whether a particular work or project is subject to public works requirements. public works coverage determinations issued by the Director since 2002 are available online.


  1. Do I have to employ apprentices on all public works projects?
    Contractors working on a public works project valued at $30,000 or more have an obligation to hire apprentices. With few exceptions, this duty applies to all contractors and subcontractors on a project, even if their part of the project is valued at less than $30,000. These exceptions include:
    • General contractors whose contract is worth under $30,000.
    • When the craft or trade is not appropriate for apprentices.
    • When the contractor holds a sole proprietor license and personally performs all the work from start to finish, unassisted.
    • In the case of a federal project when funding does not include any city, county, or state monies and that is not administered, controlled, or carried out by awarding bodies in California.
    Frequently Asked Questions about apprenticeship and public works

Labor Compliance Programs

  1. What is a Labor Compliance Program?
    Labor Compliance Programs (LCPs) are entities that are approved by the DIR to monitor and enforce compliance with state prevailing wage laws on public works projects as described in Labor Code section 1771.5 (b). As of 2016, LCPs were only required for public works projects funded in whole or in part by Proposition 84 (Safe Drinking Water, etc., Bond Act of 2006) as well as for certain older projects under a handful of other statutes. The DIR also continues to oversee four "legacy" LCPs that were approved prior to 2000. For more information go to:

Certified Payroll Reporting

  1. Who must submit certified payroll records?
    All contractors and subcontractors working on public works projects (except for those listed below) must submit electronic certified payroll records to the Labor Commissioner. The Labor Commissioner has exempted the following projects from the requirement:

    (a) Projects monitored by the following legacy Labor Compliance Programs:
    • California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
    • City of Los Angeles
    • Los Angeles Unified School District
    • County of Sacramento
    (b) Projects covered by a qualifying project labor agreement.
  2. Is the electronic certified payroll reporting system the only way to submit certified payroll records to the Labor Commissioner?
    Yes. All contractors must submit their certified payroll records to the Labor Commissioner using the DIR's online system. It offers two options for submitting certified payroll records: entering the information directly using the online form or uploading xml files.
  3. Is every company responsible for submitting its own payroll for each project on which it is working?
    Yes. Each contractor and subcontractor must submit certified payroll records directly to the Labor Commissioner using DIR's online system
  4. When/how frequently must the certified payroll records be submitted?
    Certified payroll records must be submitted at least monthly (within a month after the end of the payroll period) or more frequently if more frequent submission is required by the contract with the awarding body. The best practice is to submit the records weekly or at the conclusion of each payroll period.
  5. If the awarding body has not registered the project with the DIR, how can I submit my certified payroll records?
    Projects must be registered with the DIR using the PWC-100 form in order for contractors and subcontractors to submit certified payroll records for those projects. You should contact the awarding body to confirm that the project was registered. If the awarding body has not registered the project, you should ask it to complete the registration as soon as possible. If you have made this request, but the awarding body still has not registered the project, please contact the DIR for further assistance at [email protected].
  6. If I am required to submit certified payroll records to a union, to the prime contractor, or to the awarding body or a Labor Compliance Program, do I still have to submit certified payroll records to the DIR?
    Yes. Submitting certified payroll records to other agencies does not fulfill the requirement to submit certified payroll records to the Labor Commissioner/DIR.
  7. How do I identify the public works project that I am working on (or will be working on) on the reports?
    Public works projects have a unique DIR Project ID, often referred to as the "PWC-100" number. Any registered project can be located in the DIR's searchable database of public works projects. Entering just a few pieces of information in the search tool should yield a list that includes your project.
  8. I am an owner/operator, sole proprietor, or business owner, and I do not receive payroll checks or pay myself an hourly salary. How do I handle certified payroll reporting for my own work, and how do I determine how much I am being paid for that work?
    Even if you are paid by salary, draw, or contract payments, you still should be able to provide the following information for any work you perform on public works projects: (a) your name, address, and SSN (or FEIN, if you have no SSN); (b) the work classification for your prevailing wage work; (c) the hourly rate for that classification; (d) the number of hours that you performed that work; and (e) the estimated amount paid to you for your labor for that work. To calculate how much you were paid for your own labor, subtract all your other expenses (including materials, pro rata share of business overhead, and payments to other workers or subcontractors) from the gross contract price. The net amount should be your labor cost, and it should be equal to or higher than the compensation required for your work classification (determined by multiplying your work hours by the applicable rates) in order to comply with prevailing wage requirements.
  9. Can I review the payroll record before I submit it?
    At any time before you sign the record, you can use the navigation tools to review and modify it. After the record is signed, you will no longer be able to access or change it.
  10. Can I view and print out all certified payroll records associated with a project?
    All electronic certified payroll records submitted to the DIR can be viewed and printed in fully redacted form after locating them with the certified payroll records search tool. If you would like to save or print an unredacted (complete) version of your own payroll record, you must click on the PDF icon that appears on the confirmation page. After you close that page, the unredacted version will no longer be available.
  11. Which information is redacted (omitted) from electronic certified payroll records that are available to the public?
    Full redaction removes all personal, identifiable employee information (name, address, phone number, and SSN) as well as the contractor's federal ID (FEIN) or SSN and email address.
  12. Can I change the date or make corrections to payroll records after I submit them? If not, can I delete the record?
    You cannot change or delete records that have already been submitted. However, you may correct errors by submitting a new record for the same pay period. The new or "amended" record for an employee will take precedence over the original record submitted. However, if you are only correcting the payroll of one or more employee/s, you do not need to re-submit the information for any employees whose information was entered correctly. And if you are adding payroll for one or more employee/s not in the original record, you do not need to resubmit payroll for all the other employees (unless there are errors in them that need correction). The original record will remain on file and will be visible along with all associated amendments when users viewing submitted payroll records select "Show Amendment." The payroll number will be modified to indicate the amendment (e.g.: original record # 15-0; amended record # 15-1).
  13. What happens if I mistakenly submitted payroll for a period in which no work was performed?
    If payroll was submitted for a period in which no work was performed, you may submit a Statement of Non-Performance for the same period. That Statement of Non-Performance will take precedence over the record submitted in error.