The TIME Act: Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment Act

Blog Date: 
Friday, December 12, 2014

By Rose Sloan

When you are reading through the legislative agenda for the National Federation of the Blind Washington Seminar next month, do not be alarmed when you do not see the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2015. Our effort to responsibly repeal Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act will still be a huge priority this year at Washington Seminar, and Congressman Harper has already agreed to once again champion this effort with us.  Although the content of the bill is exactly the same, the title of the fair wages bill has simply changed to Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment Act or TIME Act.

Why?  There are many reasons.  First, it is easy to misinterpret the goal of our “Fair Wages” bill to mean “raising the minimum wage,” and in today’s climate, “raising the minimum wage” is a very politically controversial issue.  Of course, we believe that if there is a minimum wage at all, it should apply to everyone, including people with disabilities. However, our TIME Act is not advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage. It is an effort to repeal an antiquated law that prohibits over four-hundred thousand people with disabilities from obtaining integrated and meaningful employment.   

Second, the Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment Act explains exactly what we are advocating for: Section 14(c)-certificate-holding entities need to transition their business models to ensure that people with disabilities are reaching their full potential in integrated and meaningful employment.  Currently, people with disabilities are being paid subminimum wages to do meaningless tasks in segregated settings; people with disabilities instead should be receiving training so they can obtain integrated and meaningful employment. 

Finally, the Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment Act is easy to remember. It's TIME for people with disabilities to transition to integrated and meaningful employment!

As a reminder, the TIME Act will responsibly phase out and eventually repeal Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Immediately after being signed into law, the Secretary of Labor will not issue any new special wage certificates.  After one year, all for-profit entities holding 14(c) certificates will need to fully transition from being entities that pay people with disabilities subminimum wages to entities that no longer rely on this practice. After two years, all public, government entities holding 14(c) certificates will need to transition.  Finally, after three years, all nonprofits (95 percent of all certificate holders) that hold 14(c) certificates must transition.  At this point, Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act will be repealed.  By gradually phasing out the ability of entities to pay people with disabilities subminimum wages, these entities will have to transition.  It will be in their best interest to help people with disabilities obtain the integrated and meaningful employment we strive for. 

By gradually phasing out the ability of entities to pay people with disabilities subminimum wages, these entities will have to transition.  It will be in their best interest to help people with disabilities obtain the integrated and meaningful employment we strive for.

I look forward to seeing you all at Washington Seminar! The TIME is now for fair wages.