Wage forms move online

Washington state's Department of Labor and Industries has moved the filing of "prevailing wage" forms online, expecting to reduce a process that takes a minimum of two weeks to one that will take no more than 48 hours.

Public works contractors in Washington have to pay prevailing wages —based on surveys conducted by the department—as a way of protecting workers from substandard earnings and to preserve local wage standards.

Contractors first have to file an "intent" form that establishes the wages they will pay their workers. At the end of a job, they file an "affidavit" form to certify that those wages were, in fact, paid. The contractors receive initial and final payments from the state only after those forms are filed, and they are levied a $500 fine per form if they don't file.

The new online process is a part of Washington's push for e-government and takes advantage of the public-key infrastructure the state installed last year. To participate, contractors have to obtain a digital certificate through the state's Transact Washington site (transact.wa.gov). They can then send a completed form via the Prevailing Wage Intents and Affidavits Electronic Filing System (www.lni.wa.gov/prevailingwage/PWIA). Contractors receive notification via e-mail indicating whether their filing has been approved.

Forms filed electronically can be viewed and downloaded by government agencies, contractors and the public.

However, the process is not mandatory for contractors that do business with the state.

"Some contractors file many forms with us, but some will only file several," said Lynn Downey, a research analyst in the department's prevailing wage section. "Those who file only a few might not find it worthwhile to use this electronic process."

The new process also enables contractors to pay filing fees of $25 for each form by credit card, the first time the department has offered such a service.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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