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July 11, 2017

New law expands job opportunities for younger teens

A new law approved during the first session of the 128th Legislature will allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work in several specified job categories, effective immediately.

LD 1564, sponsored by Sen. Brian Langley, R-Ellsworth, encourages minors to develop work skills earlier by removing some of the barriers to employment that previously existed in statute and brings certain provisions into compliance with federal law to ensure that young people are protected from hazardous conditions, according to a news release from the Maine Department of Labor.

It also amends laws relating to minors 14 and 15 years of age to allow them to work in bowling alleys, movie theaters and permanent amusement parks. It also clarifies rules on employment in bakeries, hotels and rooming houses, thereby opening more occupations and broadening the things they can do.

"Employers in these industries can immediately begin making job offers to 14- and 15-year-olds for the newly expanded occupations," said Commissioner of Labor John Butera. "Maine's employers need these workers to help in this tight labor market, and we've seen a surge in permits this year. Our team is working hard to turn around approved permits as soon as possible."

Here’s how it works

The work-permit application can be downloaded and printed directly from the department's website.

The approval process has three steps:

  • The employer makes the job offer and helps complete the application
  • The parent or guardian signs the application and brings it to the superintendent's office.
  • The school system sends the form to the department.

The Department of Labor advises that applicants must make sure the application form includes proof of age, the parent's or guardian's signature, the actual business name and the specific job duties (e.g., "dishwasher") for faster turn-around.

The new law also allows for the modernization of the work permit process, clarifies that graduates of vocational programs who are under 18 years of age can work in the occupations for which they were trained, grants the department, not just superintendents, the ability to revoke a permit and allows the department to make rules governing employment. Included as well are restrictions in employment relating to legalized marijuana.

"There is no better preparation for the responsibilities of adulthood than working when you are a teenager," Gov. Paul LePage said in a statement. "My administration has placed a high priority on opening up more opportunities for young people to work, and on our fourth attempt in five years at passing these much-needed reforms, the Legislature responded. There is more we can do, so we must continue to help young people gain the experience, skills, and knowledge about their own career interests that can only come from holding a job."

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