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April 8, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Get ‘Em While They’re Young

[not like that though]

“More money, more problems” is not typically a student worry, and is even less so now that university students seeking employment have been disadvantaged by new Government legislation.

The Government’s Minimum Wage (Starting-Out Wage) Amendment Bill passed its Third Reading last week, meaning that on May 1 the ‘starting-out wage’ will be introduced at 80 per cent of the minimum wage, or $11 per hour. The minimum wage was raised 25c to $13.75 an hour on April 1.

The new legislation means that university students are less attractive as prospective employees than those under 18, as adults must be paid 20 per cent more per hour. The current New entrant wage, which is 80 per cent of the minimum wage, applies to 16-and 17-year-olds in their first 200 hours or three months of work, whichever is shorter.

From 1 May, this will be re-named as the Starting Out Wage and will apply to 16- and 17-year-olds in their first six months of work, 18- and 19-year-olds who have been on a benefit for six months or more, and 16- to 19-year-olds training in a recognised industry course.

The Government has supported the Bill on the basis of creating jobs for young people, of whom 90,000 nationwide are currently not in employment, training or education (NEETs). Last year, youth unemployment (15- to 19-year-olds) reached 30.9 per cent.

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson says the Bill is aimed at making a tight labour market a little less so for NEETs. “The new starting-out wage will help some of our youngest and most inexperienced workers get a much-needed foot in the door, in what is currently a tight labour market,” she said.

The Opposition has labelled the move discriminatory, and Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Megan Woods has decried the Bill’s “impact on the incomes of working students”. “This Bill is another kick in the guts for students,” she said.

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Association’s 2010 Income and Expenditure Survey found that 65 per cent of students were employed in regular or casual work during the academic year, significantly down from 90 per cent in 2007.

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