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Legality of youth pay rates in question

4 May 2006

Legality of youth pay rates in question

Youth pay rates may already be illegal according to the Government's own legal advice, Green Party Industrial Relations Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

Ms Bradford this morning made a presentation to the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee on her Minimum Wage (Abolition of Age Discrimination) Amendment Bill, which seeks to ditch youth pay rates for 16 and 17 year-olds.

She pointed out to the committee that the Justice Ministry had just published a legal opinion it had provided for the Attorney General which showed the current Minimum Wage Law breached the Bill of Rights.

"If this is correct, as I believe it is, it means that employers who are paying youth rates to those aged under 18 may be breaking the law. I am aware that one union may be preparing a case to test this legal opinion," Ms Bradford says.

Despite the opinion, Ms Bradford says she would continue to "vigorously pursue my Bill to end discrimination based on age in the minimum wage".

"While the Ministry's advice is that the current legislation may be illegal, my Bill will remove any uncertainty. It will also ensure that the Governor General will no longer be put in a position of signing illegal regulations.

"Given this legal opinion, I would expect MPs from all parties, and especially Labour, to support my Bill through all its stages," Ms Bradford says.


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