Undoubtedly, many companies have a tighter grip over spending during the pandemic. Those in the public works construction space are by no means exempt from this trend. During this uncertain time, it’s understandable that contractors might look at their overall budgets and relegate training to a lower priority. However, this might be a huge mistake. Here are a few reasons why (and how) you should still pursue proper compliance training even during this pandemic.
Compliance doesn’t stop when times get tough
Business might slow down. Projects might be delayed. Margins might get tighter. But contractors are still held responsible for complying with federal Davis-Bacon, state, and local prevailing wage laws. They will still have to answer the bell when they are slapped with fines for their violations.
Forgoing training and education could potentially be a very expensive misstep, considering that compliance violations can occur on any project at any time and can come with hefty penalties and fines. And when an audit lands at your doorstep with violations in tow, guess what happens to your margins? Yes, they shrink even further. The difference between minor mistakes (many of which can often be easily corrected before they become a problem) and giant mistakes (which can destroy your projects’ profitability – or even worse, your reputation) can typically be traced back to improperly trained administrative staff. Side note: it can also be traced back to an inefficient compliance process (both are necessary), but that’s a whole other discussion.
The rest of the industry is already adapting
Many compliance professionals are already turning to online courses during this pandemic. Furthermore, they are gravitating towards learning programs instructed by industry leading experts that provide credentials substantiating the skills they have learned.
Whether it’s of their own accord (to build up their resumes and advance their careers) or by their company’s efforts to invest in their own employees, these individuals – and the companies that employ them – are getting a leg up. And if you’re not doing the same with your staff – and/or you don’t expect the same qualifications from those you are hiring to fill those roles – your compliance efforts will inevitably fall behind the curve. There are new updates to regulations every year, and there is always more to learn. Likewise, newly hired employees that do not have both the right skillset and a proper understanding of the laws will leave their employers vulnerable to costly mistakes.
Plus, in an increasingly competitive bidding environment, you won’t have the added advantage of being able to tout that your staff not only has a solid compliance knowledge base, but also has the certifications to prove it.
You don’t know what you don’t know
If you are not working in the compliance spectrum yourself, then you need to realize that it is not as simple as just creating certified payroll reports (CPRs). It’s much, much more than that. You cannot just enter payroll, copy it on to a CPR, and call it a day. Because here’s the truth: you don’t know what you don’t know - so don’t wait until it’s too late.
Even if you don’t operate in a state that has its own set of prevailing wage regulations, any federally funded or federally-assisted project will have Davis-Bacon (DBA) or Davis-Bacon Related Act (DBRA) requirements attached. Which classifications are covered under DBA/DBRA? What are wage determinations and how do you read them? Better yet, where do you find them? And which ones do you use if the project is multi-funded?
And the questions continue… What happens when there is a disagreement with an agency or another contractor on the project on which determination or craft should be applied? Which deductions are permissible? Are you meeting the minimum apprenticeship ratio on your project each day? And the question that usually keeps contractors up at night: What are the consequences of being non-compliant?
And so on, and so forth.
A big mistake contractors often make is having an employee teach another employee how to do basic, trivial compliance tasks without an understanding of why it is being done and how it relates to everything else. It opens the door for avoidable violations and fines, which ultimately eat into a project’s margins. A properly trained administrative staff can go a long way in protecting contractors.
While traditional in-person seminars may be temporarily on hold, training opportunities are now available virtually, including those for prevailing wage compliance. LCPtracker just launched an online learning platform called LCPtracker Academy, which offers training and certifications for California prevailing wage and federal Davis-Bacon compliance, as well as LCPtracker software administration. Courses are conducted online and are on-demand, allowing your employees to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule.
For more information on these certification programs, visit the LCPtracker Academy official page.