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Bill to eliminate training wage heads to House floor

March 23, 2021 GMT

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A Democratic proposal to eliminate a provision in Delaware law that allows employers to pay minors and probationary workers less than the minimum wage has cleared a Democrat-led House committee.

The committee voted mostly along party lines Tuesday to send the legislation to the House floor.

Proponents of the measure say all workers should be paid fairly. Representatives of the business community and restaurant industry questioned the timing of the bill given the ongoing economic fallout of the coronavirus epidemic.

Critics have suggested that the measure will result in employers hiring fewer workers and will make it more difficult for teens to gain work experience.

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The training wage was proposed in 2018 after Democrats, who control both chambers of the General Assembly, rammed through a minimum-wage increase in the middle of the night on the final day of the 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 training wage.

The training wage allows employers to pay employees under age 18 up to 50 cents less per hour than the minimum wage. Employers can also pay the lower wage to newly hired employees over age 18 for up to 90 days.

Rep. Kim Williams, chief House sponsor of the repeal bill, has said that paying someone less than the minimum wage solely because they are under 18 or a new hire is unfair and discriminatory.