New Hampshire Bans Lower-Than-Minimum Wages For Workers With Disabilities

May 7, 2015

Governor Maggie Hassan, just after signing Senate Bill 47 into law, May 7, 2015.
Credit Brady Carlson / NHPR.

Governor Maggie Hassan has signed into law a measure banning employers, in most cases, from paying workers with disabilities at a rate lower than the minimum wage.

Decades ago sub-minimum wages were considered a way to help individuals with disabilities find work. But advocates say those wages have been used to exploit workers instead.

The governor said it’s fitting New Hampshire should be the first to ban sub-minimum wages, because the state has a long tradition of greater inclusion over time: “This generational progress toward including every single one of us into the heart and soul of our democracy, our communities, our economy, has a great ripple effect, not only for individuals and not only for their families, but for our economy, too.”

The governor says New Hampshire has been getting calls from other states about the law. While no New Hampshire employers had been paying a sub-minimum wage, disabilities rights groups have estimated more than 400,000 workers with disabilities are paid such wages nationwide.

The law includes an exception for some training programs and for family-owned businesses.