Section 14(c) of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act allows the issuance of special wage certificates to employers of disabled workers who are unable to work successfully in competitive work settings for competitive wages. The special subminimum wage certificates have been used especially for vocational centers that serve people with severe disabilities who would otherwise not be employed. Vocational work centers often offer additional social services and specialized care for people with severe medical or behavioral problems.
There are other resources available through state vocational rehabilitation departments to assist with opportunities for competitive employment. No one can legally be forced to work in a vocational work center.
14(c) Certificate Holders in Michigan
From the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division
“The following employers hold or have applied for certificates issued under section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The certificates authorize employers to pay subminimum wages to workers with disabilities that impair their productivity for the work they perform. This list is current as of April 1, 2021.
“The list contains the following information: certificate type, employer name, employer address, whether the application for the certificate was an initial or renewal application, whether the employer indicated it held government contracts covered by either the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA) or the McNamara O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA) at the time of application, and the number of workers with disabilities who were paid subminimum wages by the certificate holder during their most recently completed fiscal quarter. This data is based solely on information provided on the employer's certificate application. The list also includes the status of the certificate and certificate starting and ending dates.
“For certificates in 'pending' status, some columns are blank. All data is displayed for issued certificates.”
To find Michigan holders of 14(c) wage certificates, go to the spread sheet on the website that lists employers. Click on the column for "state". This will show states listed in alphabetical order with detailed information about employers using the special wage certificates.
There are 1,704 subminimum wage certificates in Michigan issued by the US Department of Labor. 13 businesses have wage certificates “pending”. If Congress eliminates these subminimum wage certificates, many these employees will either lose employment opportunies currently offered or they will be shifted to other programs, such as day programs, if they are unable to unwilling to participate in competitive employment. In the "Raise the Wage Act of 2021" there are no requirements for states to track what happens to these workers or to examine the fate of many workers who have been moved out of work center programs. There is an assumption in the proposed legislation that competitive employment works for everyone and when it doesn't, the federal government is not interested in hearing about it.