Effort To Phase Out Subminimum Wage Could Impact Some Arizonans With Disabilities

Published: Monday, April 19, 2021 - 2:56pm

Earlier this month, lawmakers introduced federal legislation that would phase out something called subminimum wage. A provision that lets certain employers pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage. If passed, it could impact some Arizonans with disabilities. 

Employers can pay subminimum wages if they hold a 14-C certificate. Roughly 40 employers in Arizona have one or have applied for one — and they can pay less than minimum wage because the employee is considered a trainee.  

Jon Meyers is with the Arc of Arizona, a disability advocacy group. 

"Although for many of these individuals, that training phase has gone on for years and years, to the point where it is almost a lifelong employment situation for them," Meyers said. 

And that’s the concern. The goal is to transition to integrated, gainful employment.

So why keep subminimum wage?

Some families worry their loved one could lose certain benefits or employment opportunities. Others argue that subminimum wage is discriminatory and should end. Meyers says use of the 14-C certificate in Arizona has been in decline for sometime.