Working paper

Towards fairness and equality for young workers: youth wages and minimum shift lengths

Taxation Wages Youth Well-being Employment Social issues Economics Industries Australia

This paper addresses the question of how effectively youth wages and reduced minimum shift lengths promote fairness and equality.

It focuses on the majority of young workers employed on a casual or part-time basis in the retail, hospitality and fast food industries4 under the General Retail Industry Award 20105 (‘Retail Award’), the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 20106 (‘Hospitality Award’) and the Fast Food Industry Award 20107 (‘Fast Food Award’). The relevance of the recent National Minimum Wage Order 20118 is briefly discussed in relation to young workers not covered by an award.
This paper uses the term ‘young workers’ for national system employees under 21 years of age, ‘youth wages’ for the gradated percentage of adult rates of pay allotted to young workers and ‘minimum shift lengths’ for the minimum amount of time an employee can be required to work each day.
This terminology is preferred over the Modern Awards’ use of ‘junior employees’, ‘junior rates’ and ‘minimum engagement periods’ because it provides more accurate and appropriate descriptions for contemporary Australian employment relations.
Image: Thomas Hawk / flickr

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