The Obama administration is moving forward with a plan to ensure that federal contract dollars no longer go toward paying workers with disabilities less than minimum wage.
Under a proposed rule published Tuesday in the Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Labor would raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers — including those with disabilities — to $10.10 per hour.
The change would effectively put an end to federal contractors paying workers with disabilities less than minimum wage, a practice that’s traditionally been allowed for employers who obtain special permission from the Labor Department.
Earlier this year, President Barack Obama issued an executive order mandating the pay hike. After leaving workers with disabilities who earn so-called subminimum wage out of his initial proposal, Obama ultimately opted to include such individuals in the final version of his executive order under pressure from disability advocacy groups.
“If you work full-time, you shouldn’t be living in poverty,” Obama said at the time. “This executive order will cover Americans with disabilities because this principle doesn’t just apply to some of us, it applies to all of us.”
The Labor Department action this week opens Obama’s plan up for public comment through July 17. Regulators are then expected to issue a final rule on the matter by Oct. 1.
Under the proposal, the wage increase would apply to individuals employed under new federal contracts and replacements for expiring agreements starting Jan. 1, 2015.
The change is expected to result in a pay raise for nearly 200,000 workers, according to the Labor Department. Agency officials said they have no way of estimating how many of the workers are people with disabilities.