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The Denver City Hall building.

The city of Denver is asking for the public’s opinion on a program draft that would allow employers to pay workers who are younger than 18 less than minimum wage.

The proposed Youth Certified Employment Program allows youth employees to be paid up to 15% less than Denver’s minimum wage if their job offers career skill training.

“The Certified Youth Employment Program is meant to support developmental programs that allow minors to grow foundational working skills as well as industry-recognized skills that will support their long-term careers,” the draft reads.

To qualify for the reduced wages, employers would have to obtain certification with youth employers serving as student learners or work-based learners.

Once a minor finishes the program, employers are “encouraged” to keep the employees on and begin paying them minimum wage or higher.

Denver Economic Development and Opportunity worked with local employers, the City Attorneys and Auditors offices to develop the proposed program.

The program comes after Denver's City Council passed the city's minimum wage ordinance that went into effect at the start of 2020.

Public comment, originally scheduled to end Jan. 7, was extended through Thursday at 11 a.m. because of a technical issue that disrupted Sunday’s virtual public hearing.

Comments can be submitted to DEDOMarketing@denvergov.org or by mail to Youth Minimum Wage Program in Denver. Another virtual public hearing will be held Thursday at 10 a.m. via Microsoft Teams.

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