29 Oct 2011

National to extend youth starting out wage

7:25 pm on 29 October 2011

The National Party has released its employment relations election policy, saying it will pay young people 80% of the adult minimum wage for their first six months of employment.

At present, what National calls the starting out wage applies to just the first 200 hours of employment for a young person.

National leader John Key told a business meeting in Auckland on Friday that the starting out wage would be set at $10.40 an hour.

It would apply to all 16- and 17-year-olds, and 18- and 19-year-olds who have been on a benefit for more than six months, until they complete six months of work for the same employer.

Mr Key says the plan is not an election sweetener for business and will give youth valuable work experience that may not have otherwise been available to them.

"Young people typically find it a bit harder to get a job because they don't have experience. What they want is a go, and what we're doing with our starting out wage is saying you can be paid $10.40 effectively off the current rate for six months, prove to that employer that you are worth that investment and then you'll go on to the adult minimum wage."

Mr Key says the wage will also be easier to administer for employers at a set time period of six months than at 200 hours.

Employer Rob Dallimore from clothing manufacturer Paula Apparel says the youth rate would encourage more employers to take on young people.

"I think it's a positive move for the youth, the school leavers and the people starting out ... and I think as a counter to the option of increasing the minimum wage across the country to $15, I think it's an intelligent alternative."

John Key says National's employment relations policy also includes extending flexible working arrangements to all employees and remove the need for the agreement to be done through a formal process.