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The Illinois Department of Labor has issued new Frequently Asked Questions on its website addressing concerns submitted to the department regarding the application of the Prevailing Wage Act to landscaping work.  While much of what is contained therein is consistent with previous policy, there are a few significant updates.

In particular, the department answers the perennial question by clarifying that ongoing maintenance or upkeep of a completed project is not subject to prevailing wage.  Thus, lawn mowing, grass cutting and other routine maintenance-type landscaping would not be covered work.

Even more significantly, the department provides examples of work that would not fall within the Prevailing Wage Act, unless the work is otherwise covered.  The list includes:

  • “the removal of diseased or irreparably damaged trees or trees that are a hazard”
  • “pruning of trees and replacement of trees that are planted as a replacement due to the removal of diseased or irreparably damaged trees, or trees that constitute a hazard”

This interpretation has significant implications for the costs of municipal tree work associated with Emerald Ash Borer remediation and other diseased or damaged tree removal.  This language should be helpful to governments dealing with this problem.  Applause goes to the McHenry County Council of Governments and Anna Bicanic-Moeller for their leadership in obtaining this clarification, as well as the continued voice of municipalities that advocated for this clarification of the Prevailing Wage Act.

We will keep you posted on any further developments on this topic. For more information, please read the Illinois Department of Labor Prevailing Wage Landscaping FAQs.

Ruth Alderman Schlossberg

Author: Ruth A. Schlossberg