There is a big debate that has been going on for years about raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour. This sounds really good for those that are making minimum wage. Did you know there are a lot of people who work every day and get mere cents on the dollar which equals out to maybe $20 per week? The really sad part is they may not have another option and it’s all completely legal.

They are called Sheltered workshops. A person with a physical, cognitive or intellectual disability can go into one of these workshops and get a job. These workshops get money from the government to employ their workers and then they make a profit off of whatever the workshop does or makes. Yet they still pay the people that work there subminimum wage also called piece rate. Under a law dating back to the 1930s, employers can obtain 14(c) certificates from the Department of Labor allowing them to pay people with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage. Workers who are paid at a lower rate are supposed to be compensated based upon their productivity level compared to that of someone without a disability. On the flip side, however, there are families and advocates who say that the wage system still plays an important role, particularly for those with severe disabilities who benefit from having a sense of purpose in an environment where they are surrounded by peers.

A bill recently introduced in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives would put an end to what’s known as subminimum wage.

The new bill called the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act, or S. 260, would require the Labor Department to stop issuing 14(c) certificates. Existing certificates would be phased out over a six-year period. In addition, the measure would make available grants and establish a technical assistance center to help businesses that currently pay subminimum wage transition toward a business model employing people with disabilities in a competitive, integrated fashion. “Although we have made progress, there are still far too many people who aren’t able to fully realize the American dream because of outdated laws and social stigmas,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who introduced the measure along with Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va.

In addition, Casey introduced legislation recently aimed at encouraging employers to hire people with disabilities. The Disability Employment Incentive Act, or S. 255, would increase three existing tax credits available to employers that hire people with disabilities or businesses that make their locations more accessible.

Everyone wants a good life and to have the “American Dream”. However, this dream is not possible if someone is making $20 per week. Our goal at PILR is to have an inclusive world where everyone achieves independence and their own personal dreams. That not only means changing the present but also the future. If you want more information about how you can make a difference regarding S.260 give us a call. Portions of this article were obtained from Disabilityscoop.com.