NDSS supports the following federal legislation that aims to improve employment opportunities for people with Down syndrome.
TRANSITION TO INDEPENDENCE ACT
NDSS supports the passage of the Transition to Independence Act. The Senate version (S 1604) was introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley in June 2015 and a House version (HR 5903) was introduced by Representative Chris Van Hollen in July 2016. The bill has not been introduced in the 115th Congress.
This bill would create a five-year Medicaid demonstration program in ten states. The program would give bonuses to the states for helping individuals with disabilities obtain integrated employment and for reducing subminimum wage work. For decades, individuals with Down syndrome and other disabilities have been segregated in sheltered workshops and paid far below the minimum wage for performing rote tasks, without access to non-disabled peers or training for competitive employment. The Transition to Independence Act would increase opportunities for people with Down syndrome to obtain employment in inclusive, integrated community settings and would help them to move closer to achieving equality, full participation in society, independent living and economic self-sufficiency.
TRANSITION TO INTEGRATED, MEANINGFUL EMPLOYMENT (TIME) ACT
NDSS supports the passage of the Transition to Integrated, Meaningful Employment (TIME) Act (H.R.1377). It has not been introduced in the Senate. The TIME Act would phase out the Fair Labor Standards Act section 14(c), passed in 1938, which authorizes the Secretary of Labor to issue Special Wage Certificates to certain entities, permitting them to pay workers with disabilities subminimum wage (less than minimum wage). Most of these 14(c) certificate-holding entities are nonprofit “sheltered workshops” (segregated work environments) that pay workers with disabilities just pennies per hour. Legislation like the TIME Act recognizes that workers with disabilities have the potential to succeed in integrated, meaningful, competitive employment settings and will get paid real wages for real pay.
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