Hillary Clinton is on a mission to propose something no major presidential candidate has done before which is pay all disabled workers the minimum wage or more. She is addressing the federal minimum wage loophole, Section 14 ( c ), that allows employers to gain an exemption from paying disabled workers minimum wage. Some Americans are not aware of the loophole while others have been fighting it for years.
This federal loophole has left disabled workers in poverty for decades and it's time it stops. There has to be a resolution that allows people with disabilities to earn minimum wage. Currently, employers with special Section 14 ( c ) certificates are able to underpay disabled workers. The Section 14 ( c ) is responsible for underpaying 228,600 disabled workers at about 2,820 companies across the United States.
The origins of Section 14 ( c ) disabled worker exemption dates back to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, which established the first federal minimum wage. Originally the Fair Labor Standards Act included provisions allowing employers to pay below minimum wage to disabled workers with a disability that could impact their employment prospects. At the time, there was a minimum set at the regular minimum wage.
An amendment made to Section 14 ( c ) in 1986 eliminated the minimum wage for applicable workers completely. This allows employers to pay disabled workers whatever they choose as long as it falls under one of two categories. The first payment category is piece rates. This allows the employer to pay a disabled worker for the amount of completed units of a product. The second payment option is time studies. Under the time studies, options employers are able to time a disabled worker for the length it takes them to complete tasks related to their job duties. Section 14 ( c ) was primarily designed for employers who provided production line and manufacturing jobs for the disabled. Today, most of the employers who have a 14 ( c ) certificate are nonprofit organizations who exclusively hire people with disabilities. These organizations usually receive funding through Medicaid agencies that allow them to provide employment to workers.
Clinton’s notable remarks regarding sub-minimum wage show she is taking a bold position regarding the topic. Clinton is also meeting with advocates to gain momentum in this fight to end the federal loophole. There are positive signs the tide is turning as advocates gain ground. There have been numerous provider associations coming to the table to discuss the situation and begin working on constructively phasing out workshops and sub-minimum wage.
Hillary Clinton has been the first presidential candidate to specifically address phasing out sub-minimum wage for workers with disabilities. However, John Kasich has also mentioned moving away from workshops while on the campaign trail. Clinton seems determined to continue pressing this issue until a resolution is found in favor of the disabled worker. All Presidential candidates should be addressing this human rights issue. Hopefully, Clinton will find a successful resolution even if it means working on it beyond the campaign trail.