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Reintroduction of youth rates a sad day for youth

21 March 2013

Reintroduction of youth rates a sad day for young New Zealanders
The Public Service Association says the passage of the Minimum Wage (Starting Out Wage) Amendment Bill into law will represent a sad day for New Zealand’s young people.

The legislation, which re-introduces youth rates, is having its third reading in parliament and is expected to pass this evening.

It means employers will now be able to pay all 16-17 year olds, and any 18-19 year olds who’ve been on an unemployment benefit for more than six months, 20% less than the minimum wage which equates to $11.00 an hour.

PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff says it sends a very poor message to young people just starting out in their working life.

“It condemns young workers to being second class workers and assumes they are not as valuable as other workers even though they are doing the same job.”

“Workers should be paid on the basis of their work and their skills, not their age’” he says.

Richard Wagstaff says youth rates provide no incentive for young people to work and also makes a mockery of the minimum wage.

“We have a minimum wage for a reason and while it is still not a living wage, all New Zealanders should be entitled to it without discrimination.”

The PSA says it’s important to point out that only nine of the 531 submissions made on the Bill were supportive, and a survey of businesses in 2012 showed the majority were not interested in a return to youth rates.

The PSA believes the government needs to do more research on measures that would more effectively deliver its policy objectives around the employment and training of young people.


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