As of March 1, 2017, Lifeworks chose to become one of just a handful of disability service providers statewide without a special wage certificate. Previously, Lifeworks was authorized under section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act to pay special minimum wages — wages less than the Federal minimum wage — to certain workers with disabilities.
At Lifeworks, we have always believed that competitive wage work is a strong enabler of self-direction, independence, and community integration – all of which are core to our mission of serving our community and people with disabilities as we live and work together. Discontinuing subminimum wage work will allow us to put an even greater emphasis on community employment.
We are grateful for the overwhelmingly positive response from our employer partners who previously paid Lifeworks associates based on productivity. 88 percent of these employers (seven of eight) continue to partner with us, despite an average 30 percent increase in their annual costs. One employer made the decision to directly hire the Lifeworks associates who work for them – something we always strive for.
We have worked closely with all of the individuals and families affected by this change, and many of them whose previously employer chose to no longer partner with Lifeworks have found new jobs or elected to join other programs at Lifeworks. One individual left Lifeworks because he feels he has attained independence – our ultimate goal!
Our desire to clearly differentiate between services for individuals who have community employment as a goal and those who are more interested in art, music, and other enrichment services was also a factor in our decision to discontinue submimimum wage work. This has benefited individuals who previously participated in center-based work, as over half those 25 individuals are now employed independently and earning a competitive wage. One family was so thrilled for their loved one that they sent chocolates and flowers to the employer on the first day of work!
Our exit from special wage work has necessitated much change. Though change is seldom easy, it’s as an opportunity to increase choice and independence for the people we serve while helping them achieve their goals.
For more information about our exit from special wage certificate work, please contact Lifeworks.