In this edition: Establishing which employment and vocational programs qualify for assignment to Classification 8806, Sheltered Workshops or Work Activity Centers.
There are a variety of supported employment and vocational training programs operated in California for the purpose of providing employment opportunities to developmentally and intellectually disabled adults. Historically, many of these programs operated as sheltered workshops or work activity centers certified as exempt from the minimum wage laws by state or federal agencies. Such programs are classified as 8806, Sheltered Workshops or Work Activity Centers. Classification 8806 in the California Workers’ Compensation Uniform Statistical Reporting Plan—1995 (USRP) provides as follows:
SHELTERED WORKSHOPS OR WORK ACTIVITY CENTERS – all employees – including supervisors, educational instructors, counselors, production managers and vocational evaluators
This classification shall apply to each location of those sheltered workshops or rehabilitation facilities certified as exempt from the minimum wage law by the United States Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division, and/or the California State Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
Retail store operations shall be separately classified.
The certified minimum wage exemption is a requirement and the qualifying factor to assign Classification 8806. The certificate will list or describe one or more locations where the program is permitted to operate with exemption from minimum wage requirements. This does not mean that all participants in the program are paid below minimum wage. Some or all program participants may be paid minimum wage or above, and all supervisors, educational instructors, counselors, production managers and vocational evaluators will be paid at or above minimum wage. The work performed in a sheltered workshop or work activity center program can vary.
There is a trend away from programs that employ people with disabilities in separate environments and at subminimum wage rates in favor of integrated employment opportunities that pay standard wages. The federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, signed into law in July 2014, significantly limits placements at sheltered workshops and other work environments where people with disabilities earn less than minimum wage. Under this law, individuals with disabilities age 24 and younger will no longer be allowed as of July 1, 2016 to work for less than the federal minimum wage unless they first receive pre-employment transition services at school and utilize vocational rehabilitation services.
Supported Employment programs facilitate integrated, community-based employment opportunities that pay standard wages for people with disabilities. These programs provide varying levels of support and training depending on the needs of the participants. Supported employment placements can be individual placements, or group placements (called enclaves), or work crews, such as landscaping crews. The disabled worker may be employed directly by the community-based employer, or they may be employed by the supported employment program operator. In either case, the worker is classified based on the job they are performing. For example, if a disabled worker is employed by the program operator but works at a restaurant, Classification 9079(1), Restaurants, applies.
Support is usually provided by instructors and job coaches. Instructors that provide pre-employment training generally qualify for assignment to Classification 8868, Colleges or Schools – private, by analogy, based on providing training in a classroom-like environment. A job coach may provide transitional support and training to assist in orienting the disabled worker at their new job, to help him or her learn the necessary skills and behaviors to work independently. As the individual gains mastery of the job, the support services are gradually phased out. The provision of transitional support and training by the job coach may also qualify for assignment to Classification 8868, by analogy, as an instructive program.
In cases where the disabled individual requires ongoing support from a job coach that remains with the worker throughout each workday, and the support is not transitional and cannot be phased out, both the worker and the job coach are classified based on the job they are performing. For example, if a disabled worker and job coach are engaged in contract janitorial work, Classification 9008, Janitorial Services, applies to both.