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More Maine Employers Can Now Hire 14- and 15-Year-Olds

Fourteen- and 15-year-olds can work a wider array of jobs in Maine, thanks to a law recently enacted by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Paul LePage.

Employers facing a crunch of summer-time workers can start making new job offers - immediately.

Fourteen- and 15-year-olds will now be able to take work in bowling alleys, movie theaters and permanent amusement parks - think Saco's Funtown but not a traveling carnival.  And they can do more work in hotels and motels, too. 

Julie Rabinowitz, of the Maine Department of Labor, says kids in that age group will still be barred from performing certain tasks, such as working in bars or providing room or housekeeping service. 

"They can help fold towels, they can deliver things to banquet areas, they can help set up for meals. They can work in the recreation aspects of the hotel so they can do a lot more activities that help us meet some of our workforce needs."

And those needs are pretty large this summer:  Rabinowitz says the number of employer-sponsored applications for work permits for 14- and 15-year-olds is way up this year.

And Steve Hewins, president of the Maine Innkeepers Association, says that with the state's seasonal tourism industry allotted some 2,000 fewer foreign worker visas than requested and some restaurants forced to close off entire wings... every possible workforce addition is needed.

"It's a stop-gap type measure," Hewins says. "It's good to have young people involved in the industry when they are capable of work because there's a lot to be learned in this industry about customer service and sales and dealing with the public and that sort of of thing. But in the long term we need more full-time workers that can do the variety of jobs that are needed in this industry and that in many cases were filled by foreign workers on a temporary basis."

The Department of Labor says Maine's rules for the age group had been much more restrictive than in other states. And, listen up teenagers - you qualify for the same minimum wage as anyone else - $9 an hour for non-tipped jobs in Maine.