As a senator weighs congressional hearings on a law allowing workers with disabilities to be paid less than minimum wage, employers are worried that a change could force them to downsize.
Organizations like Goodwill often pay those with disabilities far less than minimum wage, which is allowed under federal law if employers obtain a government certificate. The law is intended to account for the slower pace with which some people with disabilities might perform a job function. Workers in these situations are paid according to their productivity.
However, questions about the practice surfaced last year when it was discovered that employees with intellectual disabilities were being paid just $65 a month to work at an Iowa meat processing facility where they were housed in questionable conditions. Now, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, wants Congress to take a hard look at the the law and its application to ensure that people with disabilities aren’t being taken advantage of.
That has some providers for adults with disabilities concerned. In the Iowa City, Iowa area alone Goodwill officials say a change in the law could leave 500 people out of work because there simply isn’t enough money to pay all employees minimum wage.
Further, those employing people at low wages say finding jobs at mainstream businesses in the community is unlikely for many of their employees.
Disability advocates, however, are arguing that low wages need to be phased out slowly so that opportunities for work can be established, reports the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette. To read more click here.