If you are a Public Works contractor and offer a bona fide prevailing wage plan, you are likely familiar with the concept of annualization. The U.S. Department of Labor prevailing wage resource book refers to annualization as: “The computational method that is used to calculate the hourly rate of benefit plan contributions that are creditable to a contractor’s prevailing wage fringe benefit obligation on covered projects.”
By paying prevailing wage fringe benefit dollars into a bona fide benefit plan, those dollars are not subjected to labor burden costs, such as FICA, unemployment taxes, workers compensation and general liability premiums.
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A contractor can choose between providing the prevailing fringe benefit rate as additional cash wages or as bona fide benefits. The cost of paying the fringe rate as cash wages can be expensive since wages are subject to payroll taxes and payroll-based insurance premiums. In most circumstances, this includes FICA, unemployment taxes, workers compensation premiums, and liability insurance premiums. These costs are typically referred to as “labor burden” and can range between 15%–40% of payroll (depending on rates paid for workers compensation and liability insurance).