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Management And Training

Letters To The Editor

August 25, 2011
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Editor''s note:

A recent discussion on the Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online Bulletin Board pertained to a new piece of legislation being contemplated in the state of Idaho.

That discussion of allowing children under the age of 14 to work a maximum of 10 hours per week assisting in janitorial and cafeteria tasks follows below.

Posted by:
Aaron Baunee

The lead story in today''s CM e-News Daily is, to say it lightly, preposterous.

Read it here:

Much work has been done lately to raise the professionalism of the JanSan industry through training, education and innovation.

Now, the state of Idaho has, in essence, likened the custodial profession to child''s play.

Would you be willing to "babysit" a co-worker for 10 hours a week?

Do you, like me, find this to be an insulting oversight on the part of Idaho lawmakers?

Dale Muckerman

As someone who did actually have a job at the age of 10 back in the 1960s, I don''t see anything wrong or unprofessional about a 10-year-old working.

I would object for a number of reasons if a child worker could be hired for less than the going wage rate.

I would also object if child workers weren''t held to the same work performance standards of other workers.

Ken Galo

Oh, the good ol'' days when you could give them a hotdog, coke, Hershey bar and $5, and they would work all night long.

Aaron, it''s cleaning; anyone can do it — they just don''t want to!

And, quit thinking that lawmakers think: Teams of scientists all over the world haven''t been able to prove that yet.

Ed Samson

I like the idea of kids having a hand in keeping their environment clean.

I had jobs before I was 14, and I think it teaches work ethics and financial responsibility.

I remember being given the "honor" of cleaning the blackboard erasers and being a patrol boy in elementary school and running the movie projector in high school.

I doubt the kids will be cleaning restrooms or stripping floors.

Emptying wastebaskets, cleaning glass doors, sweeping, cleaning black/white boards are all good for kids.

Aaron Baunee

Fair enough.

I had the thought of children being unnecessarily exposed to chemicals and other hazards associated with tasks aside from "tidying up."

In that light, a little helper might not be so bad — if, of course, they can be kept on task.

I, too, held jobs as an adolescent assisting as a farm hand and performing other menial tasks.

I am curious, however, about federal child labor laws.

I do not know the specifics but, even with parental permission, I believe that 14 is the minimum age for employment.

Can anyone clarify this or am I mistaken?

Richard Wacker

Aaron, I think you are right about being 14 years old to work.

I also think the school needs to sign off on it.

I hope Ken is using tongue and cheek about cleaning being simple and something anyone can do.

Cleaning is a profession that needs training.

What is clean to one person is not clean to another person — it is a misnomer that anyone can clean.

That is why we have the problems in our profession, because chief executive officers (CEOs) of companies think anyone can clean.

Can anyone do surgery; can anyone officiate sports without knowing the rules?

We need to educate society that cleaning is a profession and cannot be done by anyone who goes to Wal-Mart or a grocery store to buy cleaning chemicals and now is a cleaning expert.

Ken Galo

Of course I was being a smart aleck.

Age 14 requires a work permit here; anything under 14 can only be in a family-owned business, such as a farm where no permit is required.

Placing a child in any sort of facility where injury can occur, especially a child under the age of 14, is risky.

Imagine the school systems getting letters from their insurance carriers about the spike in liability coverage.

Brokate Janitorial

This just further highlights the type of thinking many people share about janitorial work.

These types of people think they are equally or substantially more qualified in regards to methods, cleaning agents and procedures as the trained professionals who clean and manage the facilities.

The insurance factor is a great point about the additional risks that will have to be taken in consideration.

I noticed the statement from the lawmaker says the law wasn''t "written" to take jobs away from school janitors, but didn''t say that the law "wouldn''t."

While some under 14 years old are capable of being trained to perform many basic janitorial duties, the real question is whether it''s really in the best interests of either party.

I think it''s great for young people to learn the value of hardwork, but I also think that the current age restrictions are just about right to ensure kids aren''t forced into it too early.

Just because a child signs up for this program doesn''t mean they will want to or will do so by their choice.

Personally, both myself and two brothers started helping our parents in the janitorial business at a young age, but we did so with parental supervision and didn''t take any jobs away; rather, we provided assistance.

I''ll be interested to see how this ruling pans out because it is walking a very fine line of being barely acceptable or very much not. If children are exploited or jobs are lost, this law can really end horribly.

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