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Delaware Senate Democrats

Senate Sends Repeal Of Youth And Training Wage To Gov. Carney

June 8, 2021

DOVER –Democrats in the Delaware Senate voted Tuesday to restore fairness and equality to Delaware’s labor code by repealing a state law that permits workers to earn less than the statutory minimum wage, based exclusively on their age or hire date.

House Bill 88 seeks to repeal a law passed after 8 a.m. on July 1, 2018, as part of a compromise to end an all-night Republican blockade of the capital budget and grants-in-aid bill, which both require a supermajority to pass.

Since then, the youth and training wage has allowed employers to pay anyone younger than 18 or in their first 90 days of employment a half dollar less per hour than their older or slightly more experienced co-workers.

“The minimum wage should be just that – the absolute minimum employers are legally allowed to pay a worker for their labor,” said Sen. Jack Walsh, the Senate prime sponsor of HB 88.

“People don’t pay different rents based on their ages. The price of a gallon of milk doesn’t change depending on how long someone has been employed,” he said. “Two workers doing the exact same job should be paid the same, regardless of what month they were born or what season they were hired. I want to thank my colleagues for voting today to close this shameful and discriminatory chapter in Delaware’s history.”

Introduced in January, HB 88 passed the House of Representatives along party lines in May.

“The youth and training wage was a flawed, discriminatory policy when it was enacted, and I am extremely pleased that we are righting that wrong,” said Rep. Kim Williams, D-Newport, the lead House sponsor of the bill. “No longer will certain Delawareans who are just trying to earn a living be treated as a second class of workers due to their age or the date they were hired.”

HB 88 now heads to Governor John Carney for his signature. The legislation would take effect 90 days after being signed into law.