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12/21/20  11:41 am
Commenter: Citizen

Because minimum wage is too much?
 

I do not support any action that would justify paying an employee below the already lower-than-the-poverty-line minimum wage.

CommentID: 87867
 

1/15/21  2:22 pm
Commenter: Kenneth Gilliam, New Virginia Majority

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. 

Thank you, 

Kenneth Gilliam, Jr. 

Policy Director, New Virginia Majority

CommentID: 90178
 

1/15/21  2:32 pm
Commenter: Michael Cassidy

Comments from the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis
 

January 15, 2021

 

Robert Feild 

Senior Staff Attorney

The Department of Labor and Industry

600 E. Main Street, Suite 207

Richmond, 23219 

 

Dear Mr. Feild,

 

This letter offers comments from the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis (“TCI”) on the Department of Labor and Industry’s (DOLI) proposed training wage standards, pursuant to § 40.1-28.10 of the Code of Virginia.

 

We commend DOLI’s efforts to date and support several critical provisions in the draft rule. For example, we support the provision that precludes employers from using the training wage in a manner that “induces, encourages, or assists any displacement or partial displacement of other workers...” Similarly, TCI supports the provision requiring employers to make “a good faith effort to continue to employ the employee after the training period of the training wage expires.” Finally, we strongly agree that the training wage should never be applied where the goal of the “training” is merely to develop “manual dexterity and high production speed in repetitive operations.” 

 

As DOLI works to finalize the rule, to further strengthen the proposed regulations, we offer suggestions in the following areas: 

 

  • Clarify The 90-Day Eligibility Period. The regulations could more clearly state that the 90-day training period can only be applied once per individual, and that any change in employment classification or duties by the employer does not extend the period. We further suggest clarifying that the 90-day period be based on calendar days, rather than business days.

 

  • Amend The “Degree of Skill” Language. The regulations, as currently written, state that the training wage only applies to occupations that “require a sufficient degree of skill to necessitate a learning period.” This language is both broad and subjective, potentially making all occupations training-wage eligible. To create a more workable standard for DOLI, that language should be narrowed. For example, we would recommend refining the language to be  a sufficient degree of “technical” skill.

 

  • Directly Address Seasonal Employment. While the regulations state 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,” additional clarifying language should be included to more directly address the general inapplicability of the training wage to seasonal and temporary employment.

 

  • Specify An Age Limit. Most states with a training wage do not apply it to the entire workforce, as these proposed regulations do, which is both unusual and harmful to Virginia's working families. This is a particular concern in the COVID-19 economy, in which many workers have been forced to find new jobs in new fields. 

 

We thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule. In the event that you have questions in response to our suggestions above, please do not hesitate to reach out. 

 

Sincerely, 

 

Michael Cassidy

President and CEO

The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis

1329 E Cary St., #200

Richmond, Va. 23219

 

CommentID: 90180
 

1/16/21  11:07 am
Commenter: Anna Scholl, Progress Virginia

Comments from Progress Virginia
 

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input into the implementation of Virginia's new minimum wage law. Progress Virginia strongly supports the General Assembly's action to raise Virginia's minimum wage to ensure everyone is paid fairly for their work and no one who works hard has to live in poverty. 

There are several provisions of the proposed regulations we believe are positive:

1) We strongly support the provision that precludes employers from using the training wage in a manner that induces, encourages, or assists any displacement or partial displacement of other workers.

2) We support the provision that requires employers to make a good faith effort to continue to employ the employee after the training period of the training wage expires.

3) We agree that the training wage should never be applied where the goal of the “training” is merely to develop “manual dexterity and high production speed in repetitive operations.”

There are several areas where we believe the proposed regulations could be strengthened to better support working families. 

1) Clarify The 90-Day Eligibility Period. The regulations should more clearly state that the 90-day training period can only be applied once per individual, and that any change in employment classification or duties by the employer does not extend the period. Additionally, the 90-day period should be based on calendar days, not business days.

2) Amend The “Degree of Skill” Language. The regulations, as currently written, state that the training wage only applies to occupations that “require a sufficient degree of skill to necessitate a learning period.” This language is overly broad and subjective, potentially making every occupation training-wage eligible. To create a more workable standard, that language should be narrowed (e.g., a sufficient degree of “technical” skill.)

3) Directly Address Seasonal Employment. While the regulations state 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,” additional language should be included to more directly address the general inapplicability of the training wage to seasonal and temporary employment.

4) Specify An Age Limit. Given that most states with a training wage limit its application to youth workers, an untailored approach that applies it to the entire workforce, as these draft regulations do, is both unusual and harmful to Virginia's working families. This is a particular concern in the COVID-19 economy, in which many workers—of all ages—have been forced to find new jobs in new fields. Consistent with the approach of other states, any training wage should apply only to workers under the age of 18.

Thank you for your consideration of these recommendations.

CommentID: 90351