Employment, Training, and Wages Legislative Agenda for the 112th Congress (2011-2012)

The 112th Congress should recognize that the vast majority of our constituents who are of working age remain unemployed or under-employed.  In fact, people with disabilities constitute the segment of our society that is least employed.  In recent years, the percentage of federal employees with disabilities has decreased.  Given the overall high unemployment in the private sector, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities face an almost insurmountable task in securing employment.  People with disabilities want to work, pay taxes, and be contributing members of society.

Thus, the 112th Congress should help our constituents reach their full potential and become as independent as possible through integrated employment by:

Vocational Rehabilitation

  • Reauthorizing the Rehabilitation Act and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), including strengthening the linkage between WIA and the Rehabilitation Act, preserving the integrity of the Rehabilitation Act, increasing the emphasis on employment by strengthening and expanding the supported employment and customized programs, improving transition policy, expanding work experience opportunities, removing barriers to participation by people with disabilities, creating demonstration programs and incentives to replicate best practices, and ensuring full due process protections;

  • Increasing funding for  state vocational rehabilitation programs significantly above the required Consumer Price Index (CPI) level, transitions to postsecondary opportunities, supported employment, projects with industry programs, and workforce development programs that help our constituents find and keep jobs and have more career options;

Procurement and Contracting

  • Modernizing the Javits-Wagner-O’Day (JWOD) Program to expand integrated employment opportunities and ensure that people with significant disabilities remain a priority for participation in the program;

  • Expanding employment opportunities by establishing federal procurement preferences for all employers who employ people with disabilities;

  • Assuring that federal employees with disabilities do not lose their federal employment status due to outsourcing;

Subminimum Wage and Nonintegrated Environments

  • Supporting “Employment First” principles as a strategy to increase competitive, integrated employment of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities;

  • Creating incentives for employers or other solutions that will expand work opportunities for individuals with significant disabilities in integrated employment at competitive wages;

  • Expanding training and technical assistance to community rehabilitation providers to transition away from the use of subminimum wages in nonintegrated environments;

  • Assuring that no wage and hour policy shift would result in the loss of employment, benefits, or supports for people currently earning sub-minimum wages in supported or sheltered employment;

  • Conducting oversight on and strengthening the Department of Labor’s monitoring of compliance under the Fair Labor Standards Act and other federal non-discrimination requirements;

Employment Standards and Benefits

  • Supporting policies that expand workplace flexibility;

  • Assuring that part-time, supported, or periodic employees are included in any proposal that expands or extends fringe benefit coverage;

  • Expanding access to family and medical leave and supporting paid leave policies, including by mandating employers to provide a reasonable amount of paid sick leave and requiring payors to recognize these costs in their reimbursement;

Other

  • Assuring that people with intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and other disabilities can access all relevant work programs, including business development opportunities;

  • Providing technical assistance to service providers for the purpose of expanding and improving their capacity to provide supported employment, customized employment, and other services and supports that will enhance opportunities for integrated employment consistent with best, promising, and emerging practices.

  • Restoring the funding and requiring the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy to fulfill its role regarding policy, programs, and research to advance the employment of people with significant disabilities;

  • Requiring the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration to link youth transition services to support competitive, integrated employment using youth resources, including internships and apprenticeships;

  • Increasing the number of people with disabilities employed by the federal government and federal contractors through streamlining hiring processes, strengthening affirmative action requirements and improving education and recruitment efforts; 

  • Permanently extending the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) and the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act and have them apply to non-profit organizations; and

  • Reforming current Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services waiver (HCBS) and State Medicaid plan Section 1915(i) option to promote competitive, integrated employment.

Legislative Agenda Partners

We are national organizations that serve and advocate for people with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities. We work together to shape, expand, and protect a strong federal role that provides vital benefits, services and supports and assures civil rights for our constituency.