Employers will be able to pay young workers well below the minimum wage as part of a government push to get more unemployed teens into work. The new “starting-out wage” will be 80 per cent of the adult minimum wage, which is $13.50 an hour, for the first six months of work.
The $10.80 an hour minimum will apply to all 16 and 17-year-olds in their first six months of working for a new employer, along with 18 and 19-year-olds who have previously been on a benefit for six months or longer, and 16 to 19-year-old workers in some industry training.
The starting-out wage is part of the government’s Building Safe and Skilled Workplace progress report, launched by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson on Tuesday morning.
It requires a law change, but the government is confident the new wage will be in place by April next year.
As the law stands, 16 and 17-year-olds can be paid a new entrants minimum wage of $10.80 for their first three months or 200 hours of employment, whichever comes first.
The same can be paid to 16 to 19-year-olds in some industry training.