Prevailing wage law can be difficult to understand even for practitioners experienced in wage-and-hour laws. It is not always clear what the law requires of employers or what rights are available to employees. This article summarizes the purpose, main requirements, and enforcement of Article 8 of the New York Labor Law (NYLL), the law that governs the payment of prevailing wages in New York’s construction industry.

‘Public Work’ and the Prevailing Rates

The payment of prevailing wages is so important in New York State that it is embodied in the state’s Constitution. Article 1, §17 of the New York State Constitution provides: “No laborer, worker or mechanic, in the employ of a contractor or sub-contractor engaged in the performance of any public work shall…be paid less than the rate of wages prevailing in the same trade or occupation in the locality within the state where such public work is to be situated, erected or used.”