Please be advised of this important update regarding apprenticeship requirements on public works projects.
On February 28, 2023, AGC of California issued a Public Works Apprenticeship Regulations Update to advise members of new regulations affecting the employment of apprentices on public works. On March 2, 2023, the Court of Appeal issued an order temporarily staying the enforcement of the regulations pending further order of the Court.
Today, March 27, 2023, the Court of Appeal denied a request for further stay of the regulations while appeals are pending before the Court of Appeal. As a result, amendments to regulations affecting the employment of apprentices on public works under California’s Prevailing Wage Law (Labor Code § 1720, et seq.) are again in effect.
These regulations (primarily, 8 CCR §§ 202, 205, 227, 228, 229, and 230.1) purport to affect what work employers may have apprentices perform. While contractors historically employed apprentices to perform all tasks within their craft or trade, the regulations now limit the tasks apprentices can perform on the job to only those “work processes” listed in apprenticeship standards for the program under which the apprentice is registered.
The California Apprenticeship Council’s (“CAC’s”) amended regulations affecting employment of apprentices on public works under California’s Prevailing Wage Law (Labor Code § 1720, et seq.). These amended regulations were originally scheduled to take effect on Oct. 1, 2021. However, three petitions were filed in Sacramento Superior Court challenging the amended regulations, including one petition by AGC of California, ECA, SCCA, and BIA-SC. Through those actions, the effective date of the regulations was stayed pending issuance of a final ruling on the petitions by the Superior Court.
With today’s order from the Court of Appeal, the regulations are now in effect. The regulations apply to all Public Works contractors.
What does this mean?
The regulations apply generally to public works projects throughout California. These regulations (primarily, 8 CCR §§ 202, 205, 227, 228, 229, and 230.1) purport to affect what work employers may have apprentices perform. Specifically, contractors historically employed apprentices to perform all tasks within their craft or trade. The regulations now limit the tasks apprentices can perform on the job to only those “work processes” listed in apprenticeship standards for the program under which the apprentice is registered.
In addition, the CAC has taken the position that the regulations purport to limit how contractors select and hire apprentices. Prior to the regulations, contractors simply hired apprentices from the apprenticeship program for the same craft or trade as the journeypersons performing the work on site. The CAC has claimed that the amended regulations require that contractors refer to the “work processes” listed in the written standards of apprenticeship training programs to identify which craft’s or trade’s apprentices can be hired to perform any particular work.
Contrary to the CAC’s position, the Superior Court’s order and judgment indicate that the amended regulations do not affect how contractors select apprentices, i.e., contractors will continue to select and hire apprentices based on the craft or trade of the journeypersons under which they train. However, because of the positions taken by CAC and other parties before the courts, there is a risk that the CAC and other parties will seek to enforce the new regulations in a manner inconsistent with the Superior Court’s interpretation.
As mentioned previously, AGC of California and all the parties who filed petitions immediately filed appeals in the California Court of Appeal on February 24, 2023, to seek review of the Superior Court’s judgment. The regulations will remain in effect unless and until the Court of Appeal holds the regulations to be unlawful as a result of the appeals. A final decision from the Court of Appeal will take months or longer to issue.
What should contractors do?
Contractors should evaluate their ongoing compliance with apprenticeship requirements on public works, including under the amended regulations while they are in effect. Contractors may need to consult counsel due to complex issues involved.
AGC of California is actively tracking the impact of the regulations on public works contractors. If a member receives a notice, claim or demand that the contractor alter its apprenticeship hiring and employment practices because of the new regulations, please notify Bryan Mathews, AGC of California’s senior director, field services & compliance, at (661)-487-5047 or email@example.com, of the circumstances.
If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact any member of the Labor Relations Team at (916) 371-2422 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.