Summer jobs must be fairly paid – age wage discrimination must end

26 May 2024
  • Hourigan calls on Government to follow EU’s lead and stop infantilising young workers

Labour Ireland South candidate Niamh Hourigan has called on Government to end age wage discrimination by putting an end to sub minimum wage rates for young people at work.

As young people start looking for summer work, Hourigan said the Irish Government must wake up and stop turning a blind eye to the poor rates of pay for work for young people, as well as the continued practice of allowing unpaid internships.

Since 1 January 2024, the national minimum wage is €12.70 per hour. However, young people continue to be discriminated against when it comes to pay rates.

Anyone working under the age of 18 is only entitled to 70% of the national minimum wage (€8.89 per hour), while 18 year olds can be paid as low as 80% of the national minimum wage (€10.16), and 19 year olds can be paid only 90% (€11.43).

Hourigan said:

“In June 2023 the European Parliament voted to ban unpaid internships, casting a light on the failures of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party to give young people a fair start here in Ireland.

“Ireland continues to infantilise young people here by turning a blind eye to the culture of unpaid internships that exists, as well as the fact that young workers are treated so unfairly when it comes to minimum rates of pay.

“As secondary schools break for summer in the coming week, I’m calling on Government to stamp out the unfair practice of allowing sub-minimum rates of pay for our young people.

“Many young people in higher and further education will hope to get practical work place experience by applying for internships. The EU vote called for internships to have fair remuneration in live with minimum wage, social security coverage, clear training and learning objectives.

“Having these structures in place are good for those young people seeking experience, as well as for businesses who can make clear plans and set tasks for interns over the summer.

“My Labour colleagues brought a bill before the Seanad in 2022 to ban unpaid internships in Ireland. They were told then by the then Minister that his Department didn’t believe unpaid internships featured in Ireland. This spoke volumes about the attitude to young workers by this Government.

“We need to see the Government act on ending unpaid internships here at home, but we need them to go further and stamp out the clear exploitation that young people face at work in Ireland.

“Too many employers take advantage of the opportunity this Government gives them to pay those under the age of 20 less than the minimum wage.

“Businesses in hospitality and tourism in particular rely heavily on our young people to get them through the busy summer season.

“In the majority of cases, these young people are carrying out the exact same work as their colleagues but, because of their age, they are entitled to less wages than each other. It’s fundamentally unfair.

“At home and abroad, the rights of working people are under threat. I want to be an MEP that delivers for young people by fighting for progressive working rights, to make work fulfilling and to end exploitative work practices.”

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