What Is a “Bona Fide” Fringe Benefit?

March 5th, 2015|By Jeff Bennett

We write and speak extensively to contractors about providing “bona fide” benefits to employees. Someone recently asked me what “bona fide” means. I guess sometimes we get ahead of ourselves and neglect to cover the basics! This blog post, therefore, will be focused on going back to the basics.

Merriam-Webster defines bona fide as:

  1. Made in good faith without fraud or deceit;
  2. Made with earnest intent: sincere;
  3. Neither specious or counterfeit: genuine.

The Davis-Bacon Act, as well as most of the state prevailing wage laws, require that any benefits provided in which a contractor desires to take credit against prevailing wage obligations be bona fide.

The Davis-Bacon Act list common fringe benefits to be considered:

  • Health insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Pension/retirement plan
  • Apprenticeship training
  • Vacation
  • Holidays
  • Sick leave
  • Supplemental unemployment benefits.

Despite common belief, contractors may take credit for contributions made under the above conventional plans without requesting the approval of the U.S. Secretary of Labor. Some states have variations on these rules and the benefits that can be offered.

Benefits that are not considered bona fide include:

  • Use of a company truck or other vehicle
  • Tools
  • Cellular phone
  • Travel expenses
  • Any statutory benefits, such as:
    • Workers compensation
    • Unemployment compensation
    • Social security contributions.

The following whitepapers may of be of interest, “Harnessing the Power of Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Plans” here and “Working the Fringe” here.

Also, take a moment to watch our short video explaining the advantages of The DirectAdvisors Trust.

How we can help

DirectAdvisors, established in 2001 and located in Albany, New York provides bona fide benefit plan consulting and third party administrative services to merit shop (non-union) construction companies that are subject to the Davis-Bacon Act, Service Contract Act and state prevailing wage regulations. Our clients are located throughout the United States and range in size from 10 to 3,000 employees.

Each year, our construction company clients will contribute tens of millions of dollars of prevailing wage fringe benefit contributions to The DirectAdvisors Trust (health & welfare benefits) and retirement plans managed by our team.

Our solutions are free from any conflict of interest as we do not sell any financial or insurance products. We work with existing agents, brokers and insurance companies.

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