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Minimum Wage

Legislation about minimum wage: Section 14 of the Fair Labor Standards Act was amended again in 1986. Most of the people working under special certificates were in the groups that fell below the 50% minimum.

The 1986 changes allowed the wages of workers to be based on their productivity levels (Part 52 "Employment of Workers with Disabilities under Special Certificates").

For instance, if the worker with a disability performed at a 40% productivity rate when compared to an experienced worker without a disability, then the worker with a disability could be paid at 40%.

The General Accounting Office estimated that in 2001 there were 424,000 employees working under 14(c) arrangements and 95% of them worked in sheltered workshops/work activity centers. Of the employers using the 14(c) program, only 9% were regular businesses. The rest were sheltered workshops (84%), hospitals or residential facilities (5%), or schools (less than 2%).

Individual working in the community
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.

The ongoing argument about whether or not to continue these provisions has echoes of the debate about unpaid labor in institutions – change may leave people without work.

In 2000, Michael Morris summarized the debate:

The strongest voices for continuation of 14(c) defend their position by explaining that 14 (c) offers a needed approach to provide entry-level skills training and development regardless of an individual's productivity and severity of disability. Others have expressed concern that the elimination of 14 (c) will result in persons with the most significant disabilities having less favorable options and therefore increased reliance on Medicaid funded work/day activity that by definition cannot offer income-producing activity."

Individual working in the community
Photo courtesy Ann Marsden