PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island state representative has introduced legislation seeking to secure better pay for teenage workers.

Enrique Sanchez, D-Providence, said state law currently exempts certain workers from minimum wage protections. Some teens who are working part-time can be paid as low as 75 percent of the state’s minimum wage, according to Sanchez.

“A lot of young people in our community are working not because they want to, but because they have to,” Sanchez said. “They are out here after school or on the weekends helping their families pay the bills, and they should be paid a fair wage for that.”

Advocates say the wage gap creates a disadvantage for all workers.

“I know what it’s like having to work growing up,” Sanchez added. “I know what it’s like having to spend time away from homework, away from friends. I want kids coming up today to earn a fair wage.”