Sub-Minimum Wages

Editor's Note: Very low wages are sometimes allowed for individuals with disabilities, students and certain other workers.

Michael CardmanOverview: 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

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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.

Subminimum Wages: Key Items