The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) regulates the prevailing wage rate, which is the basic hourly rate paid to the majority of workers in specific trades, classifications or types of work performed in public works projects, as of 2015. The DIR determines prevailing wages based on locales and labor market areas as long as the majority of workers receive a single rate; otherwise, the prevailing wage equals the rate paid to the greater number of workers, explains the DIR website.
Prevailing wage laws prevent public works entities from awarding contracts based on paying lower wages than a contractor's competitors. The California Department of Industrial Relations requires all employers to pay the same wage rates for public works bids. The wage laws further stipulate that employers cannot pay less than the prevailing wage rate of per diem wages to all employees engaged in a public works project, notes the California DIR.
Upon determining the prevailing rate of per diem wages for a specific craft, job classification or type of work, the director of the California Department of Industrial Relations issues a determination to each county and ensures coverage of the entire area. The director issues biannual general determinations on February 22 and August 22 of each year. The state website provides a searchable database of statewide basic trade journeyman rates.