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Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



Question: How do I determine "commensurate wage rates"?

Answer: A commensurate wage rate is a special minimum wage paid to a worker with a disability which is based on the worker's individual productivity, no matter how limited, in proportion to the wage and productivity of experienced nondisabled workers performing essentially the same type, quality, and quantity of work in the geographic area from which the labor force of the community is drawn. An example of a commensurate wage rate would be as follows:

    If an experienced nondisabled worker makes boxes and can produce 40 boxes in an hour, but a worker with a disability can only produce 10 boxes an hour, the worker with a disability is considered 25 percent as productive as the experienced nondisabled worker and should receive at least 25 percent of the prevailing wage rate for such work. If the prevailing wage rate is determined to be $6.00 an hour, the worker with the disability employed under a special certificate should receive at least 25 percent of that wage rate or $1.50 an hour for performing the box production work. This is an extremely simple example, but it demonstrates the principle of commensurate wage rates.

    Properly established piece rates yield commensurate wage rates. A piece rate fixes a price on each completed unit of work. This rate is derived by dividing the prevailing wage rate by the average hourly production of individuals not disabled for the work to be performed. For example, if three nondisabled persons worked a total of ten "fifty-minute" hours and produced 2800 units in total, the average production would be 280 units per hour (2800 units divided by 10 hours). Assuming the test involved unskilled work, and the prevailing unskilled labor rate in the vicinity is $5.15 per hour, the piece rate would be $0.018393 per unit ($5.15 divided by 280 units). A disabled worker producing 185 pieces in an hour would earn $3.40 for that hour (185 pieces x $0.018393 = $3.40).

     

 
 

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