Youth starting wage law recommended by Parliamentary committee

By Kate Shuttleworth

The legislation had been planned to come into effect in April. Photo / Getty Images
The legislation had been planned to come into effect in April. Photo / Getty Images

A Parliamentary committee has recommended a starting wage for youth be passed into law.

The Transport and Industrial Relations Committee said the bill's introduction should be delayed by a month so the public have more time to learn about it.

It will allow some 16-19 year olds to be paid 80 per cent of the minimum wage, or $11 an hour.

Those eligible will include 16 and 17-year-olds in their first six months of work with a new employer and 18 and 19-year-olds entering the workforce after more than six months on a benefit.

It will also apply to 16 to 19 year olds in industry training courses.

The legislation had been planned to come into effect in April.

Labour Minister Mr Bridges said paying young people less for the same work was creating an incentive to employers to hire young people.

"The truth of the matter is the vast majority of New Zealanders see the absolute sense in this; it's about creating job opportunities for young New Zealanders.

"I think they will be paid fairly. I tell you what, I'd rather be on a reduced wage as a young person with a chance of promotion and a step up than no job at all."

Mr Bridges said he worked a number of low-paid jobs in his youth.

He said research showed that young people who did not have jobs in their early years would have poorer health, social and economic outcomes.

Labour's labour spokeswoman Darien Fenton said the bill reintroduced youth wages, something that hadn't been seen in New Zealand since the 1990s.

"Paying young workers to do the same job for less just because of their age is discriminatory and unfair and will have little, if any, impact on youth employment levels."

She said the move would discourage young people from seeking work and encourage bad employment practices among employers.

- APNZ

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