Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
What is it?
WIOA is legislation that is designed to strengthen and improve our nation’s public workforce system and help get Americans, including youth and those with significant barriers to employment, into high-quality jobs and careers. The idea is to help employers hire and retain skilled workers.
WIOA is a federal law, impacting all 50 states. The final regulations of WIOA came into effect July 22, 2016.
For further information, visit the US Department of Labor website: https://www.doleta.gov/wioa/
What is WIOA’s goal for people with disabilities?
One of the goals of WIOA is to assist those with barriers to employment. People with disabilities are underrepresented in the workforce and often face significant barriers to employment. Of the people with disabilities in the workforce, many make sub minimum wage. A small section of the federal WIOA law, called section 511, outlines how the law impacts those with disabilities, particularly those who earn sub minimum wage. The goal of section 511 is to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to information and services that will enable them to achieve competitive, integrated employment, if they so choose.
Does WIOA impact me?
WIOA impacts all those who are making sub minimum wage in the state of Minnesota. Because WIOA is a federal law, the “minimum wage” requirement specified in the law is the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. If you, or a person you represent, earn any sub minimum wage (below $7.25 per hour), WIOA impacts you.
What do I have to do?
WIOA says that individuals who are paid less than the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) must be offered a meaningful opportunity at least once a year to learn about the services and supports available to assist them in securing competitive, integrated employment. To fulfill this requirement, you (and your guardian if applicable) need to attend a WIOA informational meeting led by the WIOA specialists from Metropolitan Center for Independent Living (MCIL). At the informational meeting, MCIL staff will talk with you about WIOA, your employment goals, and assist you in filling out a “Career Counseling, Information and Referral Documentation” form. This conversation is designed to help you make an informed choice about whether or not to pursue competitive, integrated employment.
WIOA specialists have been presenting information on the WIOA process in public sessions all around the metro area to people earning sub minimum wage and their guardians. Please see our “WIOA Calendar for Informational Meetings” for a list of our upcoming public library meetings. WIOA specialists have also been hosting informational meetings at day programs throughout the metro. Once the “Career Counseling, Information and Referral Documentation” form is filled out, our team ensures a copy is provided to the appropriate day program for their records.
What are my options?
On the “Career Counseling, Information and Referral” form, the big question is: Does the individual want to pursue employment in a competitive, integrated setting?” A person can answer in one of three ways:
· Yes: I am interested in pursuing competitive, integrated employment and earning minimum wage or higher.
· No: I am not interested in pursuing competitive, integrated employment and earning minimum wage or higher.
· Refusal: I do not want to participate in the informed choice process.
o**Please note** Indicating a refusal means that you will not be able to work in a sub minimum wage job.
Any of those three responses is acceptable. The new regulations do require that an individual’s choice be formally documented, which is why we indicate the person’s response on the “Career Counseling, Information and Referral” form. Regardless of how an individual responds to the conversation – yes, no, or refusal to participate – staff who facilitate the conversation will respect the individual’s choice.
When do I need to complete the process?
Every person and their guardian (if applicable) earning sub minimum wage in the state of Minnesota should attend an informational meeting (either a public meeting held at a local library or one hosted by your provider) and fill out a “Career Counseling, Information and Referral Documentation” form. This needs to be completed by July 22, 2017 in order for there to be no interruption in the services provided to you by your day program.
Where can I get more information?
For more information, visit:
· United States Department of Labor: WIOA
· Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development
· Minnesota Department of Human Services: WIOA guidance
Frequently Asked Questions
(adapted from the Minnesota Department of Human Services website: WIOA myths and realities: http://www.dhs.state.mn.us/main/idcplg?IdcService=GET_DYNAMIC_CONVERSION&RevisionSelectionMethod=LatestReleased&dDocName=dhs-292836# )
· What is a sub minimum wage?
o A sub minimum wage is a wage that is less than the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour). An employer can pay sub minimum wages if it receives a special 14(c) certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor.
· What is WIOA?
o WIOA seeks to help people succeed in competitive, integrated employment. It increases opportunity for and access to employment, education, training and support services. It also limits the use of sub minimum wages.
· What is Section 511?
o WIOA Section 511, which took full effect July 22, 2016, seeks to ensure that: People understand, explore and work toward competitive employment before they choose to earn sub minimum wages
o People who earn sub minimum wages regularly have an opportunity to revisit their choices. The choice can be changed at any time even after it has been documented on the WIOA documentation.
· Who does it affect?
o WIOA Section 511 affects every person who is currently paid a sub minimum wage or wants to work for sub minimum wages.
· What does it require?
o Before a person can be paid a sub minimum wage, the sub minimum wage employer must have written documentation that the person has been engaged in the informed choice process required by WIOA and is choosing to earn a sub minimum wage.
o Documentation will be filled out with the help of MCIL staff after the WIOA information has been relayed and questions have been answered about the WIOA process.
· How does the process work?
o MCIL staff work with sub minimum-wage employers to schedule career counseling, information and referral presentations and one-on-one meetings at providers and out in the community.
o During the presentation, MCIL staff provide an overview of the career counseling, information, and referral services for people and their parents/legal guardians. This presentation is meant to help sub minimum wage earners (and their legal guardians) understand what this process will include and why it is happening. The individual (if they are not their own guardian) is not required to attend, but should be talked about with the guardian before the presentation. If this does not occur, the form can be taken and mailed back to MCIL staff.
o During one-on-one meetings, MCIL staff hold meaningful conversations with a person about competitive, integrated work. In many cases, these meetings will occur right after the overview presentation.
o After the one-on-one meeting, MCIL staff document "yes" or "no" as to whether the person wants competitive, integrated employment. The person receives a form documenting that a discussion about competitive, integrated work happened.
o If the person wants to seek competitive, integrated employment:
§ MCIL staff will meet with the person and his or her support team to develop an action plan, including identifying the resources available to help.
o If the person doesn’t want to seek competitive, integrated employment, the person:
§ Can continue to earn a sub minimum wage
· How often do I have to come to a presentation?
o The form filled out is good for a year. If a person begins to earn sub minimum wage AFTER July 22 2016, they must be seen by MCIL and fill out a form twice within their first year of sub minimum wage employment (once at 6 months and once at 1 year.
· What happens if a person refuses to participate?
o If a person refuses to participate in the WIOA process, he or she cannot be paid sub minimum wages.
· Does an individual have to participate if they make both minimum wage and sub-minimum wage?
o A person can work in a competitive, integrated job part-time and also earn sub minimum wages in a different position. In this scenario, the person must still participate in the WIOA process to have a discussion about if she or he wants to continue to work for sub minimum wages.