Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) will proceed to push the state’s child labor laws in 2014. He claims that 12-year-old children should not be restricted from working and learning life skills. As of now, any child younger than 16 years of age who wishes to work must be enrolled in school and successfully passing a majority of their courses in order to obtain a work permit.
According to the Bangor Daily News, LePage is requesting a change to allow students to bypass the superintendent during the summer months and dive straight into the Department of Labor without a delayed process.
Bangor Daily News notes:
“The initiative falls short of LePage’s stated desire to lower the legal working age to 12, but reprises previous unsuccessful attempts to make it easier for Mainers younger than 16 to earn a paycheck.”
“I went to work at 11 years old,” LePage said at a town hall meeting in 2011. “I became governor. It’s not a big deal. Work doesn’t hurt anybody.”
“I’m all for not allowing a 12-year-old to work 40 hours,” LePage told Down East magazine in an interview published this month. “But a 12-year-old working eight to 10 hours a week or a 14-year-old working 12 to 15 hours a week is not bad.”
LePage also supported legislation that would have permitted businesses to pay students $5.25 an hour, rather than the $7.50 minimum wage. Fortunately, that bill was unsuccessful.
Child labor laws exist to protect our youth in the workplace. They also ensure our youth have the opportunity to complete a quality education and become productive members of our society. These laws strive to protect our youth while still supporting their workplace experiences. LePage’s outrageous proposal to bypass the superintendent while not ensuring the student is successfully completing their classes is completely absurd. Interrupted or incomplete educations are the some of the reasons why child labor laws are put into place.