DIR Launches Improved Public Works Contractor Registration System
Also In This Update
- Deadline For Bills To Be Out of Their House of Origin
- Bills Set For Next Week
- Employers Must Use Cal/OSHA's New Lead Warning Signs – EFFECTIVE JUNE 1, 2015
DIR Launches Improved Public Works Contractor Registration System
The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) has improved key features of the online Public Works Contractor Registration (PWCR) system. Contractors can now print out proof of registration filing, and verify the renewal or application is complete by running a search on the database of qualified public works contractors. A user guide with instructions has also been posted online.
Improvements to the PWCR system are part of the ongoing implementation of Senate Bill 854. SB 854, which became effective June 20, 2014, established a new public works program to replace the Compliance Monitoring Unit and Labor Compliance Program requirements for bond-funded and other public works projects. The new program covers all public works in the state rather than just selected categories of projects. The Labor Commissioner’s Office continues to monitor and enforce prevailing wage requirements.
“DIR has taken the feedback from the public works community to enhance the PWCR system. Our goal is to make it easier and faster for contractors and agencies to meet their legal requirements,” said DIR Director Christine Baker. The Labor Commissioner’s Office, also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), is a division of DIR.
Contractors must register and meet requirements using the PWCR application before bidding on public works contracts in California. Using any Internet-connected computer, public works contractors can create an account, securely pay the $300 application or renewal fee and complete the application at their convenience. The registration process is finished when proof of payment is completed with the financial institution. If paying by credit card, the registration process is completed within 24 hours.
“The online PWCR system was first launched nearly one year ago, and has already helped to level the playing field for the public works community. These system improvements show our continued commitment to ensuring public works contracts are awarded fairly and with minimal hassle,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su.
Among its wide-ranging enforcement responsibilities, the Labor Commissioner’s Office inspects workplaces for wage and hour violations, adjudicates wage claims, enforces prevailing wage rates and apprenticeship standards in public works projects, investigates retaliation complaints, issues licenses and registrations for businesses and educates the public on labor laws.
The most recent information related to California labor law is available on the Labor Commissioner’s website as well as on Facebook and Twitter pages. “Wage Theft is a Crime,” a multilingual campaign initiated statewide earlier this year, provides detail on how to identify and report wage theft, retaliation and other labor law violations.
Employees with work-related questions or complaints may also call the toll-free California Workers’ Information Line at (866) 924-9757 for recorded information in English and Spanish.
Deadline For Bills To Be Out of Their House of Origin
Tomorrow (Friday, June 5th) is the deadline for all bills introduced this year to be out of their house of origin if they want to continue to move through the legislative process this year. Both houses of the Legislature, however, are rushing to finish up their work by the end of today (Thursday, June 4th) so that they can ‘get out of dodge’ early. In total this week, the Senate has 218 bills to consider, while the Assembly has 329.
Typically, unless a measure is highly controversial, the house of origin deadline is more of a formality than a ‘Berlin Wall’ that stops bills from continuing on into the second house.
While both houses are spending most of their time in ‘Floor Session’ in marathon sessions, a budget conference committee has been meeting this week in an attempt to finalize the Legislature’s ultimate budget proposal that will be sent to the governor. The conference committee is tasked with the responsibility of reconciling the differences in budget proposals between the two houses in order that a final budget can be approved.
As you may recall from last week’s update, the Legislature has until Monday, June 15th to send the 2014/2015 budget to the governor. If the budget is not passed by the June 15th deadline, legislators’ pay is docked until it is approved. Approved by the voters several years ago in an effort to break the budgetary logjam, this new ‘incentive’ has proved very useful!
Policy Committees resume their hearing of other house bills starting next Monday, June 8th and the ‘fun’ begins all over again! Stay tuned.
Bills Set For Next Week
Next week is when the ‘rubber meets the road’ in terms of legislation. Bills that have survived through their first house now have, obviously, a considerably higher chance of making it through the entire process. Thankfully, the legislative process through the house of origin has pared the list down considerably, making lobbyists’ ability to focus on the remaining bills much greater.
Following are bills set to be heard next week:
AB 251 (Levine) – Senate Labor and Industrial Relations - Public works: public subsidies.
This measure pertains to when a public works project is subject to prevailing wage requirements. It would provide that a public subsidy is de minimis if it is both less than $75,000 and 1%of the total project cost. The provisions do not apply to a project that was advertised for bid,
or a contract that was awarded, before January 1, 2016.
AB 552 (O’Donnell) - Senate Governmental Organization- Current law prescribes requirements for contracts between private parties and public entities, as defined. This bill would provide that a public works contract entered into on or after January 1, 2016, that contains a clause requiring a contractor to be responsible for consequential damages is not enforceable unless the consequential damages have been liquidated to a set amount and identified in the public works contract.
AB 566 (O’Donnell) – Senate Education – Skilled and Trained Workforce -Would apply to schools utilizing lease/lease-back arrangements for projects from $1 million and over. Prohibits a school district governing board from entering into a lease-leaseback or lease-to-own contract with any entity unless the entity provides to the governing board of the school district an enforceable commitment that the entity and its subcontractors at every tier will use a skilled and trained workforce to perform all work on the project or contract that falls within an apprenticeable occupation in the building and construction trades.
AB 970 (Nazarian ) Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Labor Commissioner: enforcement of employee claims.
Would authorize the Labor Commissioner to enforce local laws regarding overtime hours or minimum wage provisions and to issue citations and penalties for violations, except when the local entity with jurisdiction in the matter has already issued a citation or has initiated an investigation against an employer for the same violation. This bill also would make related conforming changes. By expanding the definition of a crime, this bill would create a state-mandated local program. This bill contains other related provisions and other existing laws.
AB 1245 (Cooley) Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Unemployment insurance: electronic reporting and funds transfers.
This bill, beginning on January 1, 2017, would require an employer with 10 or more employees to file all reports and returns electronically and remit all contributions for unemployment insurance premiums by electronic funds transfer, except as provided.
AB 1308 (Perea) Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Apprenticeship programs: approval.
Would revise specified conditions for when the apprentice training needs in the building and construction trades justify a new apprentice program. This bill would also remove the authority of the California Apprenticeship Council to approve a new apprenticeship program justified by special circumstances by regulation.
Employers Must Use Cal/OSHA's New Lead Warning Signs
EFFECTIVE JUNE 1, 2015 - New lead warning signs and labels are now available to help employers comply with Cal/OSHA's revised and more protective hazard communication requirements. Employers must inform their employees about potential lead hazards with work area signs and labels for lead-contaminated equipment and clothing that specifically include language about lead's danger to the central nervous system and reproductive health. Employers must comply with the new labeling rules by June 2015 and new signage rules by June 2016.
The state's Occupational Lead Poisoning Prevention Program report, Recommendations for Improving the Cal/OSHA Lead Standards, suggests that Cal/OSHA significantly lower lead exposure thresholds for workers. This can be found at: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/olppp/Pages/leadStdRecs.aspx
Use the Lead Warning Signs and Labels information on Cal/OSHA's website to access the new lead warning signs and labels. This can be found at:
Tips for posting warning signs
- Post the warning signs in lead work areas.
- Post signs in a visible place, at eye level with good lighting. Don’t post signs where they may be hidden by doors or other items.
- Laminate signs or place them in clear plastic covers to keep them clean.
- Replace old or dirty signs as needed (you can order more signs for free from OLPPP!).
- Don’t post other signs that contradict or take away from the meaning of the warning signs.
- Use signs that are in language(s) your employees will understand. (Spanish signs are available from OLPPP!)