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What businesses qualify for permits for workers with disabilities?

Any entity considering employment of people with disabilities may qualify for permits for workers with disabilities.

Who qualifies as a worker with a disability?

A worker with a disability is a person whose capabilities are limited in the performance of the tasks in a particular employment situation.

How much does a worker with a disability have to be paid?

A worker with a disability has to be paid at least the minimum wage or a percentage thereof, based on the extent to which a worker's performance is limited, but in no case may it fall below 50 percent of the minimum wage. However, to pay less than the minimum wage, the employer must first have on file a subminimum-wage permit for each performance-limited person. These are issued by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI), Labor Standards.

How is the subminimum-wage rate calculated, based on the extent to which the worker's performance is limited?

Definition of performance:  Performance is based on a time study of workers with disabilities as compared to a time study of nondisabled workers on the same job. The time study must be conducted under the same working conditions for the person with the disability and the nondisabled.

Example:  If a person with a disability produces 70 percent of the norm on a particular job, the person with the disability should receive .70 times the applicable minimum-wage rate, but in no case can he or she receive less than 50 percent of the applicable state minimum-wage. If a person is paid an hourly rate, this rate should be re-evaluated at least every six months. A person with a disability may be paid a piece rate, provided that an average nondisabled worker can produce enough to make the prevailing wage at the fixed piece rate. If a person is performing more than one kind of work or if the person changes jobs, there could very well be more than one rate in effect for that person.

What kind of certificate does an employer need from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry?

To pay a person with a disability less than the state minimum-wage, an employer must apply for a subminimum-wage permit. Application forms (LI-80014-01 and LI-80015-01) for the permit may be obtained from and returned to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, Labor Standards, 443 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN  55155; phone number 651-284-5075. The application for a subminimum-wage permit must be signed by the employee and employer. The supplement to application for a subminimum-wage permit, LI-80015-01, must be completed and signed only by the employer.

At no time can an employer hire more workers with disabilities than 10 percent of the workforce. However, sheltered workshops are excluded from the 10 percent limitation of number of employees and 50 percent limitation of minimum wages, but not from the permit requirements.

What about the processing of applications for firms under the federal wage and hour law?

Minnesota Rules 5200.0030, subpart 4, allows Minnesota to accept certificates where there is federally covered employment (including sheltered workshops).

Applications for subminimum-wage certificates by employers covered under the federal wage and hour law should be sent directly to:
U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
230 S. Dearborn Street, 8th floor
Chicago, IL  60604

What about equal pay for people with disabilities whose job performance is not affected by the disability?

Minnesota Rules 5200.0040 Equal Pay for Workers with Disabilities states, "Where a person with a disability is now performing or is being considered for employment where he or she will perform work which is equal to work performed by a nondisabled person, such person with a disability shall be paid the same wage as a nondisabled person with similar experiences."