ESRI report sparks call to end youth rates of minimum wage
Youth Council welcomes publication of ESRI report on young workers under 20
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) today welcomed the publication of an ESRI-Low Pay Commission report on Sub-Minimum wages in Ireland, saying the report provides further impetus for the abolition of sub-minimum rates of the minimum wage for young workers.
Paul Gordon, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the NYCI said: “This report highlights the need to put an end to sub-minimum rates of pay for young workers in Ireland. Unfortunately, what it shows is that under existing legislation, a minority of vulnerable workers are being discriminated against on the basis of their age.
“15,000 young workers under the age of 20 are subject to wages that can be as low as €7.91 per hour. This leaves young people, on what are effectively poverty wages, open to exploitation and puts many providing for themselves and for their families in serious financial difficulty.
“What this means in practice is that after the minimum wage is increased in January, an 18-year-old worker will still earn €4,600 less per year (gross) compared to a 20-year-old doing the same job.”
Vindication for majority employers
The NYCI says that the report shows that the overwhelming majority of employers pay young workers under 20 fairly with more than 3 in 4 earning the full rate of the minimum wage or higher, and reflects its own submission to the Low Pay Commission this summer.
“This research should act as vindication for the many employers who set a positive example by paying young workers the full rate of minimum wage or higher, with 4 in 10 young workers under 20 earning higher than the full rate of minimum wage.
“This goes to show that the removal of youth rates of the minimum wage would merely bring a very small number of employers in line with what is, in all but legislation, the status quo,” continued Mr Gordon.
Ireland behind the curve
Internationally, there has been a move to abolish youth rates of minimum wage and Spain, Korea and the Czech Republic have abolished such rates in recent years.
“Ireland is currently a laggard compared to our EU counterparts. We are 1 of only 7 EU member states to have some form of youth rates and just this year Ireland was found to be in breach of labour rights provisions of the European Social Charter for the use of youth rates.
“We believe Government must now take responsibility, show it is listening to young people and put an end to the punitive practice of youth rates of minimum wage. Ultimately, our proposal to end this practice is a moderate one that will support the small, but not insignificant, proportion of young people affected by them,” concluded Mr Gordon.