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DISMAL SUMMER PROSPECTS FOR TEEN JOB-SEEKERS

Minimum wage law, Sunday pay make employers wary

May 21, 2011

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THE ARTICLE “For teen job-seekers, summer again offers dismal prospects’’ (Page A1, May 17) omitted two key factors affecting summer job opportunities for teens — the state’s minimum wage law and the requirement of retailers to pay time and a half on Sunday.

The $8 minimum wage imposed in Massachusetts applies to all employees regardless of experience or age. Furthermore, Massachusetts is one of only two states requiring time-and-a-half pay on Sundays for most retail employees. The result is a local retailer paying a 14-year-old employee $12 an hour to bag groceries or stock inventory on a Sunday. In this economic climate, an employer simply cannot take a chance on a teen when a more experienced and reliable employee can be hired for the same wage.

By eliminating higher Sunday pay and slightly lowering the minimum wage for teenagers and trainees, as other states do, Massachusetts would give employers incentives to create much-needed opportunities for teens.

Summer jobs give teens valuable experience, and a couple of common-sense changes to our wage laws would help ensure that more opportunities exist. It beats doing nothing and waiting until next year.

Ryan Kearney
General counsel
Retailers Association of Massachusetts
Boston