Eliminating 14(c) & Subminimum Wage
Call to Phase Out 14(c) and Sub-Minimum Wage by 2022
As the only national, non-profit membership organization dedicated to Employment First – a vision that all people with disabilities have a right to competitive employment in an inclusive workforce – APSE is calling for the complete phase out of the use of 14(c) certificates and sub-minimum wage for all individuals with disabilities by 2022. This coincides with the implementation deadline for the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) settings final rule.
Since the establishment of the federal minimum wage in 1938, a special minimum wage has existed for individuals with disabilities. This provision allows employers, holding a 14(c) certificate from the US Department of Labor (DOL), to pay individuals with disabilities less than the federal or state minimum wage that is generally mandated for all other workers.
As an organization that promotes national, state, and local policy development which enhances the social and economic inclusion and empowerment of individuals with disabilities, APSE is calling for the complete phase out of the use of 14(c) certificates and sub-minimum wage for all individuals with disabilities. APSE has determined that while the sub-minimum wage may have at one time been a valid and effective strategy for enhancing the employment of people with disabilities, the evolution in disability rights and community employment makes the sub-minimum wage no longer necessary or acceptable.
In calling for phase out of sub-minimum wage, APSE recognizes the importance of undertaking such action in a way that is carefully thought out, and that leads to the movement of individuals currently being paid sub-minimum wage to transition into competitive, integrated employment opportunities, where people with disabilities work in mainstream jobs alongside, and are paid comparable wages to, co-workers without disabilities.
APSE believes that the elimination of sub-minimum wage must be accomplished based on the following principles and concepts:
- Phase out of sub-minimum wage should occur over time, accompanied by a comprehensive national systems change movement based on the principle that employment in the community is the first or preferred service option for service recipients – i.e., Employment First.
- In conjunction with the phase-out of sub-minimum wage, a national effort must be undertaken to improve the overall quality of community employment outcomes both in terms of individual outcomes (wages, hours, diversity of employment), and system outcomes (efficiency and effectiveness).
- The movement of individuals into non-work day habilitation facilities, instead of into community employment, is not an acceptable outcome of the phase out of sub-minimum wage.
- A key focus of efforts to phase out sub-minimum must be ending the use of sub-minimum wage for students entering the world of work, including: a) elimination of the use of 14(c) certificates for students currently in school; b) elimination of placements in jobs using 14(c) certificates as a post-secondary outcome.
- To assist in ending any expansion in the use of sub-minimum wage, the issuance of new sub-minimum wage 14(c) certificates to employers by the US Department of Labor should end immediately.
As a member of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and the Coalition to Advance Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE), APSE released a letter of support for the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act, which was introduced in Congress on January 30, 2019. This is an infrastructure investment bill, which would provide funding and technical assistance to states to develop new service delivery models that support CIE (as defined in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, WIOA).