New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan signed new legislation into law May 7, making the state the first in the nation to prohibit the payment of wages below the minimum wage for people with disabilities.
“New Hampshire has a strong tradition of treating all of our citizens with respect and dignity, and by making New Hampshire the first state to prohibit employers from paying sub-minimum wages to people who experience disabilities, Senate Bill 47 helps build on that tradition,” Governor Hassan said in a news release. “…I am honored to sign Senate Bill 47 into law in order to continue our state’s efforts to help ensure that people who experience disabilities can fully participate in our communities and achieve greater economic independence.”
Federal law allows certain state agencies and employers to obtain special wage certificates, allowing them to pay certain workers with disabilities wages below the minimum wage. Although the program, which has been around since the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, was meant to provide only temporary jobs, disability activists have long campaigned for abolishing it, on the basis that it segregates people with disabilities from the workforce and perpetuates disability stereotypes.
Senate Bill 47, passed unanimously by the state legislature last month, bars this practice within the Granite State. The one-page bill “prohibits employers from employing individuals with disabilities at an hourly rate lower than the federal minimum wage except for practical experience or training programs and family businesses.”
The law goes into effect on July 6.