Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act authorizes employers with a special minimum wage certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division to pay special minimum wages to workers who have disabilities for the work being performed. According to DOL data, as of April 2021, there were 604 employers nationwide with issued certificates and 694 employers with pending certificates (1,298 total potential certificate holders), employing 39,358 individuals with disabilities. Employers using the certificate include businesses, school work experience programs, community rehabilitation programs and employers of patient workers. Certificates are granted for a two-year period; it is possible for an employer listed as holding a certificate to not use it because the organization has transitioned before the certificate expires.
Goodwill Industries International (GII) supports opportunity for all. We believe the responsible approach in eliminating use of the certificate is to transition people with disabilities employed under the Special Minimum Wage Certificate into competitive integrated employment. Such a transition should honor individual choices and include supports, resources and assistance needed to succeed in those jobs are available and accessible – including well-planned systems of alternative supports, resources and services in communities where certificates are currently held. A phase-out should result in more people obtaining competitive integrated employment and staying in the workforce.
The number of local Goodwill organizations utilizing the certificate continues to steadily decline. As of April 2021, only 22 of the 151 local Goodwill organizations in the United States report using the certificate. Nearly half of those organizations are in the process of transitioning away from using the certificate. GII does not hold a certificate, and we support local Goodwill leaders as they collaborate with people with disabilities, local employers and other service providers to create an array of community-based employment and other opportunities.