States May Require Higher Minimum Wage Rates for Disabled Workers

States may require higher minimum wage rates for disabled workersAccording to the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Wage and Hour Division, employers with a certificate that authorizes them to pay their disabled workers a subminimum wage rate will now be required to abide by state laws that require higher minimum wage rates for disabled workers. A subminimum wage is defined as an hourly wage lower than the $7.25 federal minimum.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Section 14(c), the labor secretary is allowed to issue a certificate that gives employers the ability to pay subminimum wages to workers with disabilities. But since 2015, a few states have enacted laws that prohibit payment of subminimum wages to disabled workers. These states include:

  • New Hampshire
  • Maryland
  • Vermont

The Wage and Hour Division has determined that the following state laws do not conflict with the FLSA:

  • Prohibition of subminimum wage payments to workers with disabilities
  • Creation of a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage requirement for disabled workers

Because of these determinations, the FLSA does not preempt a state law prohibiting the payment of wages less than the state minimum wage to disabled workers. The Wage and Hour Division has also stated that each application submitted for a Section 14(c) certificate will be considered independently. Certificates may be issued in a state that prevents subminimum wages for disabled workers if the employer has made a case that provides a basis for the use of the certificate that does not conflict with state law.

For more information about minimum wage rates, please visit our page Minimum Wage Rates page.

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