Limitations on Subminimum Wage for Youth

The foundation of the Vocational Rehabilitation program is the principle that individuals with disabilities, including those with the most significant disabilities, are capable of achieving high quality Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) when provided the necessary services and supports. The passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) ensures all individuals with disabilities are provided the necessary services and supports to achieve CIE. This is especially true for youth 24 years of age or younger, as the WIOA emphasizes that youth with disabilities have meaningful opportunities to receive the services they need to achieve employment outcomes in CIE.

The WIOA further reinforces the congressional intent that CIE is the preferred employment outcome by placing limitations on the use of subminimum wage (SMW), especially for youth. The limitations include prescriptive timelines for the transmission of documentation from the school to the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR). The DOR requires that any youth seeking SMW employment is provided mandatory services and documentation prior to working at SMW. Mandatory services include multiple opportunities to discuss and explore CIE in the community.

Requirements for Subminimum Wage for Youth

Effective July 22, 2016, all youth under 25 years old must complete the following required pre-subminimum wage job activities before they can be hired by a 14(c) certificate holder/employer for a job that pays less than minimum wage:

  1. Apply for vocational rehabilitation services so the individual can be determined:
    • Ineligible for vocational rehabilitation services, including because the youth, through informed choice, does not want to achieve community employment at this time.
    • Eligible for vocational rehabilitation services, has an approved Individualized Plan for Employment, and the consumer was unable to achieve a competitive integrated employment (CIE) outcome.

  2. Receive career counseling from DOR, including information and referral (CC&IR) about federal and state employment and support programs that can help the individual discover, experience, find, and keep CIE.

  3. Receive Pre-Employment Transition Services provided by DOR or Transition Services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (as designated in the student's Individualized Education Plan - IEP).

Upon completion of the required pre-subminimum wage job activities, the youth individual will receive a packet with federally-required forms that must be provided to any 14(c) employer before working and receiving pay that is less than minimum wage.