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WEATHER ALERT: Severe storms expected late this afternoon and evening

Illinois could be 19th state to phase out subminimum wage for disabled workers

Rep. Theresa Mah, D-Chicago, speaks about a bill which would eliminate an exemption that allows certain organizations to pay disabled workers less than minimum wage in Illinois.

But some service providers say they’ll be forced to lay off staff without increased state and federal support

After years of negotiations and continued opposition from service providers, Illinois appears poised to prohibit employers from using a federal exemption that allows them to pay individuals with disabilities less than the minimum wage.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 established minimum wage law, but created an exemption for businesses, rehabilitation and residential care facilities to pay disabled workers less than minimum wage if they obtain a special certificate permitted in Section 14(c) of the law. This “commensurate wage” is based on the worker’s individual productivity in proportion to the wage and productivity of workers who do not have disabilities but are performing the same or a similar task.

Disability providers in Illinois offer various programs aimed at helping individuals become as independent as desired by teaching essential life skills. Some provide “sheltered work,” which is employment outsourced by a business to a facility with a 14(c) certificate. The facility pays their workers the commensurate wage, rather than minimum wage.

House Bill 793, which passed the House 78-30 on Thursday night, would prohibit companies from holding 14(c) certificates beginning in 2030 – a timeline that was extended in a late amendment to garner further support, including from Republicans.

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Illinois Public Radio

Illinois Newsroom gets stories from public radio stations from across the state, including WBEZ-Chicago, WCBU-Peoria, WGLT-Normal, WVIK-Rock Island, WIUM-Macomb, WNIJ-DeKalb, WSIU-Carbondale, WUIS-Springfield, and St. Louis Public Radio.

More Stories From Illinois Public Media

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Severe storms possible Thursday evening and overnight

From the National Weather Service in Central Illinois: A line of t’storms will affect the area late Thursday afternoon into the overnight hours. Some severe storms are in the forecast, with damaging wind gusts and large hail. Stay weather aware and be ready to take shelter when storms approach.