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 forthcoming increases in the minimum wage.
Updated to reflect an increase in Arkansas's minimum wage, effective January 1, 2017.
Updated to reflect a forthcoming amendment to the tip pools law.
Updated to include a forthcoming amendment regarding the subminimum wage for employees of seasonal amusement and recreational establishments.
Updated to include developments regarding employee retention of tips.
Updated to include a forthcoming amendment regarding the credit for tipped employees.
Updated to reflect the forthcoming Minneapolis minimum wage ordinance.
Updated to reflect increases in the state's three-region minimum wage, effective July 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.