Employee Compensation

The Compensation division of the Career Service Authority is responsible for establishing prevailing wage  rates for the City and County of Denver.  The prevailing wage rates are established to ensure appropriate levels of compensation for employees of organizations who contract with the city to perform a service in construction, repair, and/or maintenance of any public building or public work by or on behalf of the city which costs $2,000 or more.

Pursuant to Denver Revised Municipal Code (DRMC) Section 20-76, the Career Service Board is responsible for determining the prevailing wage rates used on City and County of Denver projects. The board makes such determinations at least once a year, or as frequently as is considered necessary by the board. 

The Denver Auditor, Prevailing Wage section is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the city's prevailing wage requirements. DRMC Section 20-76(d), Mandatory Contract Provisions; Enforcement, requires the following of every applicable contract:

  • The contract shall contain a provision requiring the contractor and subcontractors to pay not less than the proper prevailing wage.
  • The contract shall provide that employees are paid at least once a week the full amount due them at the time of payment.
  • The contract shall provide that the contractor or subcontractor furnish to the Auditor, on a weekly basis, a true and correct copy of the payroll records of all workers, laborers, and mechanics employed to work on the city project.
  • The contract shall provide that should a contractor or subcontractor fail to pay the proper wage the Auditor shall not approve any payment to the contractor until furnished evidence from the contractor has been provided that the payment in question has been corrected.
  • The contract shall further provide that a sworn statement of the contractor or subcontractor must accompany the payroll records submitted to the Auditor certifying they are true and correct.

Establishment of Prevailing Wages

The Denver Revised Municipal Code (DRMC) Section 20-76 (c) 3), states that Davis Bacon Act rates should be used. If there are jobs which are not covered by Davis-Bacon then the prevailing wage is determined at least annually based on a Denver metropolitan area survey using the same methodology that Davis-Bacon uses. If there is insufficient data available in the Denver metro area to determine the prevailing wage, then the ordinance directs the Career Service Board to refer to the Service Contract Labor Act rates to determine the prevailing wage.

DRMC Section 20-76, in general, declares that any contractor or sub-contractor performing work on or at a City facility costing $2,000 or more, must pay their employees working on those projects nothing less than the appropriate prevailing wage rate for the classification of worker.

The Career Service Board must give reasonable public notice of the time and place of the hearing when prevailing wages are proposed. Career Service Authority posts Public Notices on its website located here. To receive notification of Career Service Public Hearings regarding Prevailing Wage rate changes, sign-up for e-mail notifications here.


Frequently Asked Questions

Contractors and Sub-Contractors

What are a contractor's prevailing wage obligations?

  • A contractor or subcontractor is obligated to classify and pay employees working on city projects in conformity with the work those employees actually perform. Deliberate misclassification of employees by contractors in order to evade prevailing wage obligations shall be considered a violation of Section 20-7.

I am a subcontractor, how do the prevailing wage rates affect me?

  • Any contractor or subcontractor, at any tier, performing work on a city project is obligated by DRMC Section 20-76 to pay the prevailing wages applicable to the various classes of laborers, mechanics, and workers as determined by the Career Service Board.
  • When you bid on a contract with the city, the wages that are in effect at the time the contract is let are enforced for the first year of the contract. If the contract extends beyond one year, any new rates that are in effect are applied to the employee’s’ wages on the anniversary date of the contract with the city.
  • A contractor or subcontractor may provide their employees actual "bona fide" benefits approved by the Auditor's Office, in lieu of payment. If such "bona fide" benefits are not provided, then the contractor or subcontractor must pay the applicable rate directly to the employees on each paycheck.

Enforcement of Prevailing Wages

What city agency enforces the prevailing wages?

  • Auditor’s Office/Prevailing Wage Unit at (720) 913-5000.

Who may file wage complaints?

  • Construction workers employed by contractors on city projects.
  • Contractors and/or subcontractors working on the same projects.
  • Unions who may uncover violations during the course of their activities.
  • Auditor's staff, who in the course of their daily work may uncover violations.
  • Other city agencies who work closely with the Office of the Auditor in monitoring the enforcement procedures; i.e. District Attorney's Office, City Attorney's Office, Department of Public Works, Tax and Treasury, Mayor's Office of Contract Compliance, and General Services.

Who do I contact to find out what rates apply to my contract?

  • The Auditor’s Office/Prevailing Wage Unit at (720) 913-5000.

Publishing of Prevailing Wages

What city agency publishes prevailing wage rate changes?

  • Auditor’s Office/Prevailing Wage Unit at (720) 913-5000.

How can I receive notification for changes to Prevailing Wages?

  • The Office of Human Resources posts all Prevailing Wage Public Notices on its website. To receive a notification of a Career Service Public Hearing regarding Prevailing Wage rate changes, sign-up for email notifications.

Davis Bacon Act

The Davis-Bacon Act, as amended, requires that each contract over $2,000 to which the United States or the District of Columbia is a party for the construction, alteration, or repair of public buildings or public works shall contain a clause setting forth the minimum wages to be paid to various classes of laborers and mechanics employed under the contract.   Under the provisions of the Act, contractors or their subcontractors are to pay workers employed directly upon the site of the work no less than the locally prevailing wages and fringe benefits paid on projects of a similar character.  The Davis-Bacon Act directs the Secretary of Labor to determine such local prevailing wage rates.

In addition to the Davis-Bacon Act itself, Congress has added prevailing wage provisions to approximately 60 statutes which assist construction projects through grants, loans, loan guarantees, and insurance.  These "related Acts" involve construction in such areas as transportation, housing, air and water pollution reduction, and health.  If a construction project is funded or assisted under more than one Federal statute, the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage provisions may apply to the project if any of the applicable statutes requires payment of Davis-Bacon wage rates.

The geographic scope of the Davis-Bacon Act is limited, by its terms, to the 50 States and the District of Columbia.  By the same token, the scope of each of the related Acts is determined by the terms of the particular statute under which the Federal assistance is provided.  For example, Davis-Bacon prevailing wage provisions would apply to a construction contract located in Guam or the Virgin Islands funded under the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, even though the Davis-Bacon Act itself does not apply to Federal construction contracts to be performed outside the 50 States and the District of Columbia.