Danny Healy Rae has been accused of not “living in the real world” after he claimed no employer would pay a teenager less than the adult minimum wage.
Workers aged 20 and over must be paid a minimum wage of at least €11.30 an hour.
However, an employer may pay a teenager less than this and, for those aged 17 or less, the minimum wage is only €7.91 per hour.
People Before Profit have brought a bill before the Dáil to equalise the minimum wage across all age groups - something Deputy Healy Rae feels is unnecessary.
“I don’t think there’s any discrimination by employers in rates of pay - whoever they’re employing,” he told The Hard Shoulder.
“Employers are central in all of this as well and I do believe in paying people properly when they’re trained and they’re fully capable and able to do the job on hand.”
Prior to his election to Dáil Éireann, the Kerry TD worked for his family business and said he “loves youngsters” and “loves giving them work”.
“To think that you could wrong people who work for you, that’s nonsense,” he continued.
“That’s not happening in any of the employers that I know around Kerry and, of course, I don’t know what’s happening up here in Dublin.
“I do know you won’t have people to work for you if you don’t treat them properly.”
Deputy Healy Rae described the bill as a “political exploit by People Before Profit” and said employers have to offer staff competitive wages in the current economic climate.
“Anyone who thinks otherwise is not in the real world,” he said.
“There’s almost full employment in the country, you can’t get people - young or old.
“And to think you can get away by not paying them properly, that wouldn’t happen.
“It can’t happen in today’s world.
“Maybe it happened years ago.”
'I know for a fact they are'
UCD Students’ Union President Molly Greenough said Deputy Healy Rae could not be “living in the real world if you think employers won’t pay young people the absolute bare minimum that they’re allowed to.”
“I know for a fact they are,” she said.
“I have constituents that have [been paid less than the adult minimum wage] and I would encourage Deputy Healy Rae to consult with his constituents on a border basis because I’d be shocked if there weren’t practices happening like that in the County of Kerry.”
Junior Minister Neale Richmond proposed an amendment to the bill that deferred the Second Reading for 12 months - allowing the Government to consider the legislation.
Main image: Danny Healy Rae. Photo: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie