Sheltered Workshops and the Subminimum Wage

Posted by Michele Neumann on 9/13/2016

Sheltered Workshops and the Subminimum Wage


Our Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services agency is governed by the national Rehabilitation Act and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (2014). Recently, the law provides provisions around prevocational transition services and subminimum wage for transition-age youth. The intent is to ensure that young adults are not transitioning from high school directly to “sheltered workshops” or other employment arrangements where they could be paid a subminimum wage without having had the opportunity for training or to explore supported employment in their communities.


Teachers, parents, and vocational rehabilitation counselors need to be aware of Section 511 (b) (2) of the Rehabilitation Act. It states: 


  • School districts may not enter into arrangements with employers that hold a 14(c) certificate and would pay subminimum wage to individuals who are age 24 or younger. Sheltered workshops hold these certificates.
  • Youth who have completed secondary school but who are still younger than 24 years old, cannot start working for less than minimum wage until they have applied for Vocational Rehabilitation Services and have had the opportunity to receive pre-employment transition services.
  • If a young person is already working at subminimum wage, WIOA recommends he/she be referred to Vocational Rehabilitation Services to have the opportunity for pre-employment transition services.


For more information visit: the Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center at