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It’s time to treat younger workers as adults not children – Sub-minimum wage rates must go

11 January 2023

Labour employment spokesperson Marie Sherlock has said the sub-minimum wages for young workers must be brought to an end in 2023.

Supporting the Mandate campaign to scrap sub-minimum wage rates for young workers, Senator Sherlock said:

 “The Government cannot continue to treat adults like children and the sub-minimum wage rate particularly for 18 and 19 year olds must be brought to an end. We cannot allow 2023 to be yet another year where up to 95,000 workers are being discriminated against because of their age.  

“This enduring discrimination of younger workers reflects the Government's patriarchal perspective that young workers’ earnings are akin to pocket money. It shows their aloofness to the reality that thousands of young students depend on work to survive.  There were almost 95,000 15-19 year olds in the workplace in 2022 - many of these very much rely on this money to subsist either within the family home or living on their own.

"Furthermore, the sub-minimum rates offend the principle of equal pay for equal work for all working adults, regardless of their economic and family circumstances.”