JEFFERSONVILLE, IN – About one-third of adults with moderate disabilities participate in the workforce. A unique federal program allows these workers to make meaningful workforce contributions with employers allowed to pay a sub-minimum wage as long as they meet all program requirements. These employers must also provide the workers with job and life skills training designed to help them lead lives that are more independent and contribute to the economy.
An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor found that New Hope Services, a non-profit industrial work center that hires workers with disabilities, failed to ensure workers with disabilities received required job and career training. As a result, the employer could no longer pay sub-minimum wages, and should have paid the workers the full federal minimum wage of $7.25 for every hour of work. The investigation led to the recovery of $154,443 in minimum wages for 74 workers.
“Employers who qualify for the sub-minimum wage program have a moral and legal obligation to provide the career and skills training to qualified workers as required,” said Wage and Hour District Director Patricia Lewis in Indianapolis. “Encouraging employment of adults of all abilities has a positive impact on the lives of these workers and our nation’s economy, but it must be done legally.”
Employees in New Hope Services’ vocational training program are paid a pro-rated minimum wage based upon the number of pieces or tasks completed within a specific timeframe. The vocational training program teaches employees skills such as staying on task, following directions and socializing at appropriate times.
Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.