NDSS supports the following federal legislation that aims to improve employment opportunities for people with Down syndrome.
TRANSFORMATION TO COMPETATIVE EMPLOYMENT ACT (H.R. 873/ S. 260)
NDSS supports the passage of the Transition to Competitive Employment Act. This legislation will help pave the way for equality in the workplace for people with Down syndrome and other disabilities, many of who work in settings that fail to prepare them for integrated employment in the mainstream economy. By phasing out the special wage certificates, this legislation will give people with disabilities access to the work and training environments that will allow them to acquire meaningful skills and better employment opportunities.
The phase-out period includes a systematic approach to expand capacity for competitive integrated employment, particularly for people transitioning out of sheltered workshops. Specifically, the bill authorizes $300 million for two grant programs supporting competitive, integrated employment and a technical assistance center. One grant program will help states transition the business models of 14(c) certificate holders. The second will help current 14(c) certificate holders located in states that do not apply for the state grants to transition their business models. Technical assistance center will support all entities phasing out 14(c) to disseminate best practices and lessons learned on the transition from subminimum wage to competitive employment.
DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT INCENTIVE ACT (S. 255)
People with disabilities face many workplace barriers that make it more difficult for them to obtain and retain employment. The Disability Employment Incentive Act would provide additional incentives to small and large employers through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, the Disability Access Credit, and the Architectural and Transportation Barrier Tax Credit to encourage the hiring and retention of individuals with disabilities as members of their workforce.
NDSS supports this legislation because it will facilitate efforts to encourage businesses to invest in hiring people with Down syndrome and increasing the number of opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome to work in meaningful and competitive employment settings. Employees with Down syndrome should be fully integrated physically, functionally and socially in the workplace, and given the necessary supports for success. Further, employers should recognize the value of employees with Down syndrome as an integral part of their workforce and provide accommodations that include them in their recruitment and hiring efforts.
WORKFORCE INNOVATION AND OPPORTUNITY ACT
Signed into law in July 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) (Public Law 113-128) is designed to strengthen and improve the public workforce system and help get Americans, including youth and those with significant barriers to employment, into high-quality jobs and careers and help employers hire and retain skilled workers. As part of the implementation of WIOA, new restrictions on payment of subminimum wage to youth with disabilities went into effect in July 2016.
In August 2016, the final rules for WIOA, developed jointly by the US Department of Education and US Department of Labor, were published in the Federal Register. Links to specific parts of the final rules are provided below:
- WIOA: Joint Rule for Unified and Combined State Plans, Performance Accountability, and the One-Stop System Joint Provisions – Final Rule
- State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program; State Supported Employment Services Program; Limitations on Use of Subminimum Wage – Final Rule
- WIOA: Miscellaneous Program Changes – Final Rule
- Programs and Activities Authorized by the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (Title II of WIOA) – Final Rule
- WIOA: Department of Labor-Only – Final Rule