Young adults should be paid the full minimum wage, People Before Profit have argued.
At present, those aged 20 and over must be paid at least €11.30 an hour; those aged 19 are entitled to €10.17, 18-year-olds can be paid €9.04 and those under 18 earn at least €7.91.
People Before Profit has drafted an Equal Pay for Young Workers Bill 2022 that would equalise rates of pay across all age groups.
“It will remove the absurd and discriminatory situation that currently exists whereby people under 20 are legally allowed to be paid less than minimum wage,” TD Paul Murphy said.
“So, if you’re 19, you can be paid 90% of the minimum wage, 18, 80% of the minimum wage and 17 or younger you can be paid 70% of the minimum wage.”
Some economists have argued that a lower minimum wage incentivises employers to hire young people who lack experience.
It is not an argument that Deputy Murphy gives any credence to.
“There is no basis to justify paying young people less than the minimum wage,” he said.
“These people are doing the exact same work as their colleagues in the same workplace and yet, as it currently stands, they’re legally allowed to be paid even less than the minimum wage.
“I think that is completely unjust exploitation.”
Last year, the Government announced plans to replace the minimum wage with a living wage.
By 2026, the minimum rate of pay will be set at 60% of hourly median wages as determined by the Low Pay Commission.
People Before Profit's bill is due to be debated in the Dáil next Wednesday.
Main image: Young waiter with drinks. Picture by: Alamy.com