Government urged to abolish ‘pay discrimination’ against young people

Government Urged To Abolish ‘Pay Discrimination’ Against Young People
The minimum wage for those aged 19 is 90 per cent of the current rate, for those aged 18 it is 80 per cent and for those aged 17 and under it is 70 per cent. Photo: PA
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By Cate McCurry, PA

The Labour party leader has said the rationale for “pay discrimination” against young people “cannot hold water”, and urged the Government to implement a recommendation to abolish sub-minimum wages for teenagers.

The Low Pay Commission made the recommendation in a report on the national minimum wage.


While the current minimum wage is €12.70 per hour, the National Minimum Wage Acts allow for lower rates for people aged under 20.

The minimum wage for those aged 19 is 90 per cent of the current rate, for those aged 18 it is 80 per cent and for those aged 17 and under it is 70 per cent.

The Low Pay Commission has called for these rates to be abolished.


Taoiseach Simon Harris said that the Minister for Enterprise, Peter Burke will order an economic assessment of the recommendations, and that a decision will be made before the budget.

Ivana Bacik said she was not surprised by the recommendation.

“Maintaining a discriminatory system for young people could never have stood up to scrutiny when evaluated on the evidence,” she told the Dáil on Tuesday.

“As our school completion rates become the envy of other countries, I want to acknowledge that the rationale for pay discrimination which leaves young people so vulnerable simply cannot hold water.


“I also welcome the recommendation that a review mechanism should be built in to ensure that there are no unforeseen consequences arising from a change in policy, but it is important that we see the recommendations acted upon.

“In recent times, we have seen what appears to be a shift within Fine Gael towards a not entirely convincing commitment to workers’ rights.

“But even that has changed slightly again in recent months. and our concern was at the advent of a new energy in Fine Gael has meant the advent of a dangerous precedent for those bodies which have been pushing for better conditions for workers.”

She claimed that there has been public efforts made within Fine Gael to “exert influence” over the Low Pay Commission to slow down progress towards a living wage for those lowest paid workers.



Mr Harris said that following an economic impact assessment, recommendations will be made to cabinet.

He told Ms Bacik he is “very proud” of his party’s record on workers’ rights.

“We’ve taken a number of actions to help support workers, remote working as well to try and support that work life balance too,” the Fine Gael leader added.

“However, we also have to listen to people running businesses too. I’m sure you and I would have been in recent weeks and months during the election campaign, cafés, restaurants, small shops, who have pointed out that the pace at which charges and costs are coming up has had a real impact.

“What nobody wants to do in government, and I’m sure in opposition, is to do anything that hinders the ability of someone to provide employment in the town in the village.

“We will continue to support workers and we will continue to support small and medium enterprises and I certainly don’t buy into the idea that it’s one or the other. It is about taking that balanced approach.”

Ms Bacik said she is “very concerned” to guard against any rolling back of workers ‘rights.

“Any attempt to review further or to build in some other review mechanism, sounds like it’s amounting to a political review,” she added.

Mr Harris rejected any assertion that the government was rolling back on workers’ rights.

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