Connecticut Employment Law Blog Insight on Labor & Employment Developments for Connecticut Businesses

Paying Less Than Minimum Wage? DOL Allows It Under Special Circumstances

Posted in Laws and Regulations, Legislative Developments

As background, everyone knows that Connecticut has a minimum wage law for employment (now at $8.00 per hour, going up to $8.25 for 2010). While there are some limited exceptions to that rule (most notably for servers and bartenders who get a tip and some apprentices), it is now viewed as a societal norm that everyone should get a minimum wage for work performed.

But Connecticut and the federal government have another exception that is not as widely known. 

For example, in Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 31-67,  the Department of Labor may issue "to any person whose earning capacity is impaired by age or physical or mental deficiency or injury, a special license authorizing employment at such wages less than the minimum fair wage and for such period of time as is fixed by the commissioner and stated in the license."

Federal law has something similar, the background of which can be found at the DOL’s website here.  Employers that use such sub-minimum wage rates have special notice obligations as well.

In general terms, this provision basically ALLOWS employers to get government approval to pay employees with some disabilities less than minimum wage.  We can debate whether this law still servers a purpose in today’s workplace where those with disabilities are to be treated equally. 

But there is no doubt that this program does impact those in Connecticut and is being used. For example, in the Hartford area, HARC helps people with an intellectual disability with various work programs at local companies.  HARC, which was founded in 1951, has placements at companies as varied as lawfirms to hospitals.

For employers, it is an example of how conventional wisdom about minimum wage may not hold up.  And perhaps it may open up an opportunity to a group of individuals who might not otherwise find employment.

  • Mick LaVelle

    The Kennedy Center, Inc, an non-profit organization with its headquarters in Trumbull, provides similar programs in southwest Connecticut. These programs are invaluable in allowing adults with disabilities to have rewarding employment in the mainstream workforce. There really are no ADA implications because the special wage helps to make it cost effective for employers to design tasks that are within the capabilities of such workers. Pullman & Comley is proud to have been a contributor to The Kennedy Center for many years.

  • http://www.ctemploymentlawblog.com Daniel Schwartz

    Excellent point. Having worked with the Kennedy Center as well, I would certainly add my strong concurrence. You can find their website at: http://www.thekennedycenterinc.org/general/home.php