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Laura Harper

Child Labor Laws on Governor's Rollback Agenda

There seems to be a trend emerging here. Augusta these days has more to do with regression than progression. First our Governor proposed  peeling back all environmental protections to the federal standard, and now there is  a bill to eliminate some child labor protections in Maine – taking us back decades!

Maine's child labor laws were first enacted in 1847, and strengthened repeatedly over the years. The reason? Educators complained that students forced to work long hours outside of school were falling asleep in class. The current law limiting working hours for 16 and 17 year-olds was forged through bipartisan agreement about the need to balance employer interests with the health and welfare of Maine children.

The bill on the table seeks to eliminate significant protections regarding working hours for 16 and 17-year-olds. It would make it legal for teens to work up to six hours a day, and as late as 11pm, totaling 32 hours in a week! Under current Maine law, a teen can work up to 20 hours a week, with a maximum of four hours a day, and as late at 10pm.

Our current child labor laws match our values: working teens should be protected from being pushed to work unreasonable hours, especially during the school year. After all, a teen's number one priority should be success in school. Read more »