Study Evaluates Progress Eliminating Subminimum Wages for People with Disabilities

The National Council on Disability – an independent federal agency – today released its latest report on trends regarding American workers with disabilities being paid below minimum wage, recent policy changes impacting this employment model, and characteristics of for-profit entity use of subminimum wage work in their supply chains.

National Disability Employment Policy, From the New Deal to the Real Deal: Joining the Industries of the Future provides compelling findings from a national study of an 80-year old disability employment service model that has struggled to keep pace with a changing legal, policy, and employment environment.

Highlights of the report’s recommendations to improve opportunities for CIE, self-employment, and entrepreneurship for people with disabilities include:

  • Phasing out of 14(c) on a six-year timeline, concurrent with a “phase-up” of systems changes necessary to bring people with disabilities into CIE.
  • Department of Labor issuing a two-year moratorium on any new 14(c) certificates
  • Increasing oversight of the existing 14(c) system until phase-out is complete.
  • Retaining the current definition of CIE used by the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services’ regulations and guidance to build on systems-change success.
  • Amending the Javits Wagner O’Day Act, which requires all federal agencies to purchase certain supplies and services from nonprofits that employ people who are blind or have significant disabilities, to better support employment of people with disabilities in CIE.

The report also makes data-driven observations on the need to build capacity and infrastructure for supported employment servicesto change pay structures to promote recruitment, retention and advancement of a skilled labor force that can provide supported employment and related services; and to make improvements to the processes of vocational rehabilitation and other employment service providers who support people with disabilities.

Read the report here.