Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Labor Compliance

3 Workers on Jobsites


What is a trainee?

A person registered and receiving on-the-job training in a construction occupation under a program which has been approved in advance by the United States Department of Labor or the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.

How is an on-the-job program established?

An on-the-job training program is established through a partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Office of Civil Rights and the contractor. The intent of the program is to address the under-representation of women, minorities and disadvantaged persons in the highway construction industry by encouraging these groups to explore careers in the construction trades.

What are the federal trainee requirements?

Once an on-the-job training program is approved, a trainee is not subject to the FEDERAL general decision incorporated into a contract, provided the contractor can demonstrate that the ratio of trainees to journeyman workers on the project is not greater than the ratio permitted under the program and that the trainee is:

  • performing the work of his/her trade
  • registered with the Minnesota Department Office of Civil Rights
  • compensated according to the rate specified in the program for the level of progress

If a contractor fails to comply with the terms of the trainee requirements mentioned above, the contractor shall compensate the laborer or mechanic not less than the applicable total prevailing wage rate for the actual work performed and for all hours worked. Furthermore, all hours worked in excess of the prescribed hours allowed under the program and/or this contract shall be paid at the journeyman wage rate.

Does the State of Minnesota Prevailing Wage Act exempt trainees?

No, a trainee is not exempt under state law. The contractor shall assign the trainee a job classification that is the "same or most similar" and must compensate the trainee for the actual work performed regardless of the trainee's skill level and for all hours worked, unless the trainee is:

  • employed and registered in a bona-fide apprenticeship program or
  • employed in the first 90 days of probationary employment as an apprentice, is not registered in the apprenticeship program, but has been certified by the proper governmental authorities to be eligible for probationary employment as an apprentice.

How can I get additional information about the on-the-job training program?

For additional information about the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s on-the-job training program please visit the Office of Civil Rights - Equal Employment page.