Employer On-The-Job Training Programs or Other Training Programs
Thank you for the opportunity for New Virginia Majority (NVM) to submit a public comment related to the Department of Labor and Industry’s intent to adopt a regulation pertaining to employer on-the-job training programs or other training programs established in accordance with Va. Code § 40.1-28.10. Our comments below highlight some of the positive provisions of the proposed regulation and outline a few suggestions to strengthen the proposal.
Positive Provisions Outlined in Section B
While NVM supports the modest and long overdue minimum wage increase for working families, we do not support paying workers a subminimum wage, as outlined in section B. However, we want to lift up some essential provisions of the proposed regulation that are critical to protecting Virginia workers. The provisions are listed below:
The employer is not utilizing the employee being paid the training wage in a manner that causes, induces, encourages, or assists any displacement or partial displacement of any currently employed worker;
The employer makes a good faith effort to continue to employ the employee after the training period of the training wage expires; and
The training must not be for the purpose of acquiring manual dexterity and high production speed in repetitive operations.
Areas for Improvement
Further, we want to provide a few suggestions to strengthen the proposed regulation.
First, the regulation should clarify that the 90-day eligibility period for the training wage is based on calendar days and not business days. This will help ensure that employers do not pay their employees a training wage for a prolonged period of time.
Second, additional language should be included to make it clearer that the training wage does not apply to seasonal or temporary employees. We acknowledge that the proposal states that, “[t]he employer shall not hire the employee at the training wage unless there is a reasonable expectation that there will be regular employment”, but we believe that additional language would further cement that point.
Third, this proposal does not specify an age limit for which a training wage should apply, as is done in other states. While NVM believes that all Virginia workers should be paid at least the minimum wage, we believe that applying a training wage across the entire workforce will harm workers, especially at a time when so many Virginia families are struggling to make ends meet at no fault of their own. Additionally, specifying an age limit would align with prevailing practices in other states that also have training wages or similar wage provisions.
Lastly, we suggest that the “degree of skill” language be amended. This language is subjective and overly broad, which has the potential to make every occupation training wage eligible.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding our comment or need any additional information.
Kenneth Gilliam, Jr.
Policy Director, New Virginia Majority