Having a good job — where you do well and get paid fairly — has long been denied to many people with disabilities. Subminimum Wage rules as part of section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), provides for the employment of certain individuals at wage rates below the minimum wage.
Current legislation calls for the phase out of these subminimum wage allowances based on disability. Disability advocates call this an important civil rights issue. Subminimum wages are in direct opposition to the fairness and equal opportunity guaranteed to every citizen of the United States.
In America, nearly half a million people with disabilities are working for less than minimum wage — earning an average of $3.34 an hour.
Source: The Hill - Now is the time to end the subminimum wage for people with disabilities
History of Subminimum Wages for People with Disabilities
The FLSA legislation passed in 1938 to give people with disabilities more opportunities to enter the workforce. At the time, common thought assumed a worker with a disability was less productive than one without a disability and thus rationalized the lower pay. Today, this is considered an outdated assumption. Workers with disabilities, given equal opportunity and appropriate supports, can perform as well as co-workers without disabilities. In fact, the number of people with disabilities working at competitive wages continues to grow.
Subminimum wage continues as an option despite years of data of people with significant disabilities benefiting from competitive integrated employment (CIE), defined by:
- paid work at or above the applicable minimum wage and commensurate with coworkers performing the same work;
- work occurring in integrated business settings with coworkers with and without disabilities; and
- opportunities for job advancement.
Learning More about Subminimum Wage Reduction Efforts
Reducing or eliminating subminimum wages would have a profound impact on employment for people with disabilities. Check out these resources to learn more.
- OnDemand Webinar: Subminimum Wage: Effects of Employment for Individuals with Disabilities – TACQE U
- Coming Up: Subminimum Wage: Accessing Fair Wages Webinar
- GAO Report on Subminimum Wage – Factsheet
- Subminimum Wage: Effect of Employment for Individuals with Disabilities – Factsheet