Newark Post | by Randall Chase
The state House has voted to approve a Democratic proposal eliminating a provision in Delaware law that allows employers to pay minors and probationary workers less than the minimum wage.
The measure cleared the Democrat-controlled House on a strict party line vote Thursday and now goes to the Democrat-led Senate.
Under current law, businesses are allowed to pay employees under age 18 up to 50 cents less per hour than the minimum wage, which is currently $9.25 per hour. Employers also can pay the lower wage to newly hired employees over age 18 for up to 90 days.
Proponents of abolishing the youth wage and training wage argue that all workers should be paid fairly.
“It creates a second class of workers, with some potentially earning less simply because they’re a minor, or because they’re new to the job, regardless of prior experience,” said Rep. Kim Williams, D-Newport, chief sponsor of the repeal bill.
Several Newark-area legislators are listed as co-sponsors of the bill, including state senators David Sokola, Bryan Townsend and Jack Walsh; and state representatives Paul Baumbach, David Bentz, John Kowalko, Eric Morrison, Ed Osienski and Madinah Wilson-Anton.
Critics have suggested that abolishing the youth wage and training wage will result in employers hiring fewer workers and will make it more difficult for teens to gain work experience.
The training and youth wage was enacted in 2018 after Democrats rammed through a minimum-wage increase in the middle of the night on the final day of the legislative session with no GOP support.
Angry Republicans responded by withholding support for a key budget bill that needed their votes to pass.
The stalemate eventually led to Democrats agreeing to delay implementation of the minimum wage increase and to support the proposal for a youth and training wage.