What’s going on:
The Kansas House of Representatives is contemplating a bill that has sparked concern among disability rights activists, as it could incentivize employers to pay disabled workers less than the minimum wage.
The proposed bill would extend a state income tax credit for goods and services acquired from businesses that hire disabled workers, according to US News.
Why it matters:
The January report to Congress highlighted that over half of disabled workers from exempted employers make less than $3.50 an hour, and almost 2% are bringing in less than 25 cents per hour.
Vendors who wish to take advantage of the new tax credit are encouraged to pay all of their disabled employees at least the minimum wage, though some workers that are not directly involved in procuring goods and services may be exempt from this requirement.
Many people say that employing disabled people at a below-minimum-wage rate is exploitative. Pat Jonas, president and CEO of the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation in Wichita, Kansas, wants to introduce a tax credit program that would be easier for vendors to use, and still offer below-minimum-wage jobs for those in need of vocational training.
For employers looking to provide this type of opportunity, they must establish a new, individual company or non-profit that pays the minimum wage.
How it’ll impact the future:
As employers across the country transition to paying the federal minimum hourly wage of $7.25, the debate around this measure in Kansas serves as a reminder of the importance of fair compensation.