Employers may be tempted to make arbitrary adjustments in the prevailing
wage to account for differences in duties, methods, equipment and
responsibilities between the work done by employees receiving special minimum
wages and work done by employees who do not have disabilities in competitive
industry. This practice, known as "de-skilling," is not permitted. If the
employer is unable to find comparable jobs to survey, prevailing wage data
should be collected on similar jobs requiring the same general skill levels.
The following is an example of de-skilling:
Assume that the properly determined prevailing wage for
packaging-by-hand is $8.00 and that the hand packing job performed in
competitive industry normally includes the following steps: counting bolts,
placing a label on the bag the bolts go in, putting 10 bolts into the labeled
bag, putting 24 filled bags into a box for packing and then sealing the box.
De-skilling occurs when the employer lowers the prevailing wage
because the workers with disabilities do not perform all components of the job
that was surveyed. The workers with disabilities may not perform all components
of the job because of the manner in which the work was assigned, because they
are unable to or refuse to perform certain of the work components, or the
particular contract being performed does not require all of the components.
An example of de-skilling would be when the employer, for whatever
reason, decided that labeling the bags is not as difficult as counting 10 bolts
and therefore the SMW of an employee who only performed labeling should be
based on a prevailing wage of $7.25 an hour rather than $8.00. The same would
be true if the employer decided that the SMW of an employee who only sealed the
boxes should be based on a prevailing wage of $7.50 an hour.
De-skilling is an inappropriate adjustment to the prevailing wage that
adversely impacts the commensurate wage. Some employers may also attempt to
reduce commensurate rates when evaluating the performance of workers with
disabilities by penalizing them for not performing all components of a job.
This process, known as factoring, is also not permitted.
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FLSA Section 14(c) Advisor |
Wage and Hour Division