New federal jobs program proposes end to subminimum wage

The Biden administration is proposing reforms to a federal program that gives people with disabilities federal contracting jobs across the country and no longer allows workers to be paid less than minimum wage. The AbilityOne Commission, an independent federal agency, issued a proposed rule Tuesday that would bar federal contractors and subcontractors from paying a “subminimum wage” to workers who are blind or have a physical or mental disability.

The proposed rule would require each nonprofit agency participating in the AbilityOne program to certify it will pay its employees at least minimum wage for all contracts and subcontracts awarded through the program. The proposed rule states that “Employees with significant disabilities who have been receiving subminimum wages for their work will now receive the federal minimum wage, state minimum wage, or prevailing wage, depending on the applicable law”.