Stay Lifted on CAC’s Amended Apprenticeship Regulations


Amended regulations relating to the use of apprentices on public works projects have gone into effect, with serious repercussions for employers. On March 27, 2023, a California Court of Appeal lifted a stay of enforcement on amended apprenticeship regulations issued by the California Apprenticeship Council (CAC). Though an appeal regarding the regulations remains ongoing, the regulations are now in effect and may be enforced by the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). 

What Do the Amended Regulations Require? 

The amended apprenticeship regulations apply to contractors performing public work and require public works contractors to assign to apprentices work that is included in the apprenticeship standards under which the apprentice is training. According to the new regulations, an “apprenticeable occupation” is defined by the “work processes contained in the approved apprenticeship standards under which the apprentices are training.” A “work process” is a skill or task, stated in a program’s apprenticeship standards, in which the apprentice will receive supervised work experience and training.”

The amended regulations require that “[c]ontractors must assign apprentices work that is included in the apprenticeship standards under which the apprentices are training,” and provide that “[a]pprentices on public works cannot be assigned work other than that which is stated in the work processes of the apprenticeship standards under which the apprentices are training.” 

What Has Changed with the Amended Regulations? 

Prior to the amended regulations, contractors on public works hired apprentices based on the craft of the supervising journeyperson and assigned tasks to apprentices that were within the scope of the journeyperson’s craft.  The amended regulations revise this industry practice and now require that apprentices may only be assigned tasks that are within the “work processes” of the apprenticeship program under which the apprentices are training.

This is a significant change for two reasons. First, a craft’s scope of work as defined in its master labor agreement may vary from the scope of the craft’s DAS-approved apprenticeship program. Second, various work processes may be taught or assigned by various different crafts or trades, thus putting contractors in the middle of a jurisdictional dispute between the various trade unions.

What Should Contractors Do Now? 

The court opinion, though currently under appeal, suggests that the amended regulations do not prevent a contractor from requesting apprentices based on the craft of the supervising journeyperson, which is the prevailing industry practice.  Though the DIR might adopt a different enforcement position, contractors should stay tuned for further developments and may continue requesting apprentices based on the craft of the journeyperson until advised otherwise. As of the date of this writing, the DIR Public Works Apprenticeship Requirements website still states that contractors should submit “contract award information for each craft required on the project using the DAS 140” and “contact the applicable apprenticeship committee to request apprentices for each craft or trade on your project using the DAS 142 form.”[1] Contractors must continue to use the DAS 140 and 142 forms for notification and request of apprentices.

Contractors would also be well advised to ensure they have copies of all applicable apprenticeship standards from the apprenticeship programs, including the work processes. Once apprentices have been obtained, contractors must ensure they are only assigning tasks to the apprentice as listed in the applicable apprenticeship standards and the work processes. In the event of a doubt or a jurisdictional dispute, contractors are advised to contact the local DAS office, or their counsel. 

What Are the Consequences of Failing to Comply? 

California public works law provides for significant penalties to contractors for failing to comply with apprenticeship standards on public works.  The penalties include monetary fines and even debarment from performing public works.  In addition, there is also a private right of action for failure to pay prevailing wages. The DIR has not announced whether it intends to seek immediate enforcement of the amended standards through the application of penalty assessments, but there is nothing preventing it from doing so.

[1]  das/publicworks.html 

This AALRR publication s intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in reaching a conclusion in a particular area of law. Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. Receipt of this or any other AALRR publication does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Firm is not responsible for inadvertent errors that may occur in the publishing process. 

© 2023 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo



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