U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez told Politico that a federal move away from allowing people with disabilities to be paid less than minimum wage ought to be an example for states. (Pat Vasquez-Cunningham/Albuquerque Journal/Zuma Press/MCT)

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez told Politico that a federal move away from allowing people with disabilities to be paid less than minimum wage ought to be an example for states. (Pat Vasquez-Cunningham/Albuquerque Journal/Zuma Press/MCT)

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez is hoping that states will follow the federal government’s lead in moving away from paying people with disabilities less than minimum wage.

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama signed an executive order requiring all federal contract workers — including those with disabilities — to be paid at least $10.10 per hour.

The change, which applies to government contracts starting in January, means that federal contractors will no longer be eligible to pay people with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

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Traditionally, some government contractors and other employers have been able to obtain special permission from the Department of Labor to pay what’s known as subminimum wage through a provision known as Section 14(c).

It’s not clear how many workers with disabilities have been paid less than minimum wage by government contractors, but the White House indicated that people working to maintain the grounds on military bases are among those with disabilities expected to receive a raise.

Now, Perez tells Politico that he believes the federal action on subminimum wage should serve as an example to states.

“I think we have seen that it can be done and that’s going to be up to every state, but we wanted to set an example,” Perez told Politico.