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House approves minimum wage parity for disabled workers

State of Washington capitol building, Olympia.

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington House has passed a bill that would require physically or mentally disabled workers to be paid the same minimum wage that other workers in the state receive.

The measure passed on a bipartisan 81-17 vote and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Under current law, employers can receive special certificates from the state’s Department of Labor and Industries to pay wages below the minimum wage for workers with disabilities. In the application, employers must name the nature of the disability and how it affects the work performed, and the pay rate may not be less than 75 percent of the minimum wage unless a lower rate is determined to be justified. House Bill 1706 eliminates those special certificates for disabled workers.

Washington’s current minimum wage is $12 an hour, and will rise to $13.50 an hour next year as part of 2016’s Initiative 1433.

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