Youth payrate returns from May

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 18:04 21/03/2013

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A youth payrate - of $11 an hour - has been reintroduced after legislation passed in Parliament tonight.

The Minimum Wage (Starting-out Wage) Amendment Bill passed its third reading 61 votes to 60.

National, United Future and ACT were the only parties to vote in support of the legislation which will allow for a youth rate to be set at no less than 80 per cent of the minimum wage for 17-19-year-olds who are not supervising or training other workers. On current figures the rate would be $11 an hour.

Labour Minister Simon Bridges said the starting-out wage would be available from May 1.

"Employers should consider using the starting-out wage to give our youngest and most inexperienced workers the break they need to get into the job market, and start building their skills and work experience."

Under the starting-out wage, eligible 16-to-19-year-olds can be paid 80 per cent of the minimum wage for six months or for as long as they are undertaking recognised industry training of at least 40 credits per year.

The starting-out wage sits alongside other government initiatives aimed at helping more young New Zealanders into work or training, including Work and Income's Job Streams.

Public Service Association national secretary Richard Wagstaff said it was a sad day for New Zealanders.

"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."

It also provides no incentive for young people to work and made a mockery of the minimum wage, he said.

Labour MP Darien Fenton said the bill would make an underclass of young workers.

“The Bill assumes that cutting wages will create jobs – it won’t."

The failed policies of previous National governments showed that, Fenton said.

“This policy will only add fuel to the massive gap in pay between New Zealand and Australian workers and further position the Kiwi economy as one based on low wages and long hours."

The wage will be available for:

* 16 and 17-year-olds in their first six months of work with a new employer

* 18 and 19-year-olds who have been paid a benefit for six months or longer and who have not completed six months of continuous work with any employer since starting on benefit

* 16-to-19-year-old workers in a recognised industry training course involving at least 40 credits a year.

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