Thursday, March 24, 2016

MI DD Council to consider elimination of sub-minimum wage for DD

I want to personally encourage the public to participate in this discussion of the issue of sub-minimum wages, their affect on people with DD, and the availability of appropriate programs and services to meet the diverse needs of the DD population. The DD Council will be taking up this issue at the April 2016 meeting. To give the public and especially individuals with DD and their families a chance to weigh-in, the council anticipates hearing from people during the public comment period and will also accept written comments that will be distributed to council members for their consideration. The DD Council always schedules time for public comments at their meetings and welcomes public participation.

The Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council wants to hear from you on the issue of sub-minimum wage certificates and whether the DD Council should support amending current legislation to prohibit the ability under the state law of employers to pay less than the minimum wage to persons with physical or mental disabilities, regardless of an individual’s  productivity and earning capacity. For people with DD, sub-minimum wage certificates are used primarily by employers for sheltered workshops (facility-based employment or skill-building services). [For more information, see below.]

The DD Council will be considering this issue at its next meeting on:

Tuesday, April  5th,  2016
10:45 am to Noon

at the Lewis Cass Building,
320 S. Walnut Street between Washtenaw and Kalamazoo
Lansing, MI
This is a new location for the DD Council.

The opportunity for public comment is usually at the beginning of the meeting. The exact wording of the recommendation before the council may change slightly, but the main idea is the same as stated above. If you plan to attend public comment, please notify Dee Florence at or (517) 284-7293 by Thursday, March 30, 2016.

Send written comments to Yasmina Bouraoui at or Dee Florence at by Friday, April 1st, 2016. These will be distributed to DD Council members.


What are sub-minimum wage certificates?

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act currently allows employers of people with disabilities to apply for “authorizing certificates” from the U.S. Department of Labor to pay special minimum wages (SMWs) “to workers with disabilities whose productive and earning capacities are impaired for the work being performed.”

“An SMW must also be a commensurate wage, based on the individual productivity of the worker with a disability (no matter how limited) in proportion to the productivity of experienced workers who do not have disabilities that impact their productivity when performing essentially the same work in the same vicinity.”

For people with developmental disabilities, wage certificates are used primarily by sheltered workshops (facility-based employment or skill-building programs) as an incentive to hire people who might otherwise not be employable. These facility-based programs often provide an array of services beyond employment. Without the wage certificates, many of these programs would not be able to continue operating. In integrated Supported Employment work settings, disabled workers receive at least minimum wage along with support services; the wage certificates are not used.

The DD Council staff determined that states may pass legislation eliminating the use of wage certificates by employers for people with developmental disabilities and looked into the feasibility of doing so. See Staff Report here.

For more information on the effect of eliminating the choice of facility-based employment, especially for people with more severe disabilities, with the primary alternative being integrated supported employment, see The DD News Blog.  APSE, The Association of People Supporting Employment First, supports phasing out the use of facility-based work programs in favor of integrated, competitive employment for all.

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