There’s been a lot of talk about the `minimum wage’ and `minimum wage exemptions’ for people with Intellectual disabilities. Is it fair?
From personal experience, I know that being unemployed due to disability is challenging. Without the independence and mana that employment provides, life is not the same. Socialisation is limited and ambition/energy levels decline. It can be a downward spiral.
I have Cerebral palsy and I’m nonverbal. It is very difficult for me to communicate and have trouble doing basic daily tasks. This includes my motor skills, struggle with swallowing, walking and issues with my epilepsy
Graduating in 2019 with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies. Getting my qualification wasn’t easy. The journey has been hell. It took three years for me to finally get a job. After a series of rejections and failed attempts, I started to doubt myself and my contribution to society.
I’m grateful for the opportunity I have been given at my recent job and I have big dreams for my future. It is an opportunity for me to prove myself, gain more experience and build a career.
The Minimum Wage Act 1983 allows Labour Inspectors to issue minimum wage exemptions in certain circumstances to people with disabilities. This gives others, especially those with intellectual disabilities stable and ongoing opportunities.
This was showcased in a recent episode of Alice Snedden’s Bad News (The Spinoff) on minimum wage exemption. Here’s a link if you missed it….
In the interviews with Tatiana and Samantha, it is patently clear the pair love their jobs with Several Altus. The minimum wage exemption gives them peace of mind, and a purpose in life.
Most people under the exemption aren't aware of hourly rates and annual salaries. They just love what they do, love being valued, having a job and contributing to something meaningful.
Without clear job security, it is really scary and it can be dark to think of the unknown, not doing anything at home. I've been through that it was really terrifying. I’m glad Tatiana and Samantha and others are being given work opportunities that they clearly enjoy.
You can decide if it's exploitation or not fair but, we can agree everyone deserves a chance to prove themselves and importantly have a stable future in employment.