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Wage and Hour Division
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Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

Subminimum Wage Employment for Workers with Disabilities

The longstanding mission of the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards that protect and enhance the welfare of workers in the United States. This important mission serves to protect all workers in the United States, including workers with disabilities, and the WHD strives to protect these workers to the fullest extent of the law.

Since 1938, section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act has authorized employers, after receiving a certificate from WHD, to pay wages that are less than the Federal minimum wage to workers who have disabilities for the work being performed. There have been numerous employment rights changes for individuals with disabilities since 1938. Perhaps most striking was the enactment of The Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

Two other changes occurred in 2014. On February 12, 2014, the President signed Executive Order 13658, “Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors,” to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for workers on covered Federal contracts, including workers with disabilities. (Please see the Executive Order Final Rule Website for more information on the Executive Order, including Fact Sheet: Raising the Minimum Wage for Workers with Disabilities under Executive Order 13658 for specific information on the impact of the Executive Order on section 14(c).) On July 22, 2014, the President signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The Act increases individuals with disabilities’ access to workforce services to prepare them for competitive integrated employment. WIOA also requires better employer engagement and promotes physical and programmatic accessibility to employment and training services for individuals with disabilities.

Compliance with subminimum wage employment requirements is very important and WHD will continue to work to ensure that subminimum wages are used properly in accordance with the law. The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to ensuring that all of our stakeholders – employers, advocates, workers and other interested parties – fully understand the rules that apply to employing workers with disabilities at subminimum wages.

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