Some SC lawmakers want to stop ‘subminimum wage’ pay for people with disabilities

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) — According to advocacy groups, about 1,100 South Carolinians with disabilities are being paid less than $7.25 an hour at their jobs.

That number was higher prior to the pandemic, groups said.

Some state lawmakers want to stop this practice in South Carolina. A joint resolution filed in the state Senate would prohibit the use of a federal law that allows ‘subminimum wage’ pay for people with disabilities.

The bill received a favorable report from the full Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry committee.

“We see subminimum wage as a significant disability rights issue, not only in South Carolina but in the US,” said ABLE SC President and CEO Kimberley Tissot. “But we want to start here to end this practice as it violates the rights of so many.”

According to Tissot, six states have passed legislation that ended subminimum wage for people with disabilities in their states. About 12 others have pending bills.

Right now, employers can apply for a 14-C Certificate. This waiver allows them to pay certain employees less than $7.25 an hour based on the “perceived impact the employee’s disability has on their ability to perform the job.”

During a Department of Disabilities and Special Needs commission meeting last week, some commissioners said if employers can’t apply for the 14C certificate, people with severe disabilities would lose their jobs.

“It is absolutely unfair to say this discriminates against anybody. All they’re trying to do with 14-C is give people an opportunity to work,” said Commissioner Barry Malphrus.

Some providers have begun phasing out the practice, according to Tissot.

The bill is now headed to the South Carolina Senate floor. If passed, the legislation would take effect in 2024 to give providers three years to adjust.

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