Overview: Under minimum wage laws, employers may sometimes pay certain workers - including individuals whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by a physical or mental disability, full-time students, apprentices, messengers and student-learners - wages even lower than the minimum wage, known as subminimum wages.
The federal government and most state governments require employers to obtain special certification before hiring workers at subminimum wages.
The main goal of subminimum wages is to provide employment opportunities to workers who might not otherwise find work.
Trends: The National Council on Disability, a small but influential advisory agency that is credited with playing a major role in the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, has recommended that subminimum wages for individuals with disabilities under the Fair Labor Standards Act be phased out over a six-year period.
If the federal government follows this recommendation, many if not all states can be expected to follow in its footsteps.
Author: Michael Cardman, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect the 2017 annual inflation adjustment to Emeryville's minimum wage.
Updated to reflect the lifting of an injunction that had blocked implementation of the St. Louis minimum wage ordinance, effective May 5, 2017.
Updated to reflect information on a court ruling that the tip credit does not apply to restaurant delivery drivers.
Updated to reflect the forthcoming Flagstaff minimum wage ordinance.
Updated to reflect state preemption of local minimum wage laws, effective March 30, 2017.
Updated to reflect an announcement regarding the state minimum wage rate.
Enhanced to improve comprehensiveness with the addition of the minimum wage ordinance in Bangor.
Updated to reflect an increase in Massachusetts's minimum wage, effective January 1, 2017.
Updated to reflect an increase in Michigan's minimum wage, effective January 1, 2017.
HR guidance on paying subminimum wages to full-time students, apprentices, messengers, student-learners and individuals whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by a physical or mental disability.