Under-25s earn less for doing the same work, argues charity


Workers aged under 25 are missing out on up to nearly £6,300 per year because they’re not entitled to the national living wage, according to the Young Women’s Trust.

The charity has published a report, Paid Less, Worth Less?, which claims that more than a million young people are paid up to £3.45 an hour less for doing the same jobs as older workers. Over the course of a year, this means they lose out on £6,279.

The trust also found that half of young people struggle financially, with a quarter admitting to being in debt all of the time and one in three suffering from anxiety over money.

Apprentices are some of the hardest hit by this “wage discrimination”, according to the Young Women’s Trust, and in some cases are being exploited as they have the same responsibilities as non-trainee workers, but are paid significantly less.

Legally, employers can pay apprentices £3.50 an hour, which is £4 an hour less than the £7.50 national living wage, meaning they are £7,280 a year worse off than their counterparts on the national living wage.

The charity has broken down how much gross pay different bands of workers miss out on each year by not earning the national living wage:

  • Apprentices (£3.50 an hour): £7,280
  • Worker aged 16 to 17 (£4.05 an hour): £6,279
  • Worker aged 18 to 20 (£5.60 an hour): £3,458
  • Worker aged 21 to 24 (£7.05 an hour): £819

Despite these findings, four in five HR decision makers (79%) polled by the charity said that young people were as valuable to the workforce as their older colleagues and should be paid the same rate for the same work.

Most young people, in a separate poll by the charity, agreed with either raising the apprentice minimum wage (supported by 83%), or extending the national living wage to under-25s (79%). Just under six in 10 thought abolishing university tuition fees would help.

Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said: “Young people are telling us day-in, day-out, that they are struggling to make ends meet.

“They are falling into debt, using foodbanks in greater numbers and their self-confidence is low. It’s no surprise when they are paid less for the same work.

“We all need a basic amount of money to get by on, no matter how old we are. The bus to work costs the same, whether you’re 24 or 26. Gas and electricity costs the same, regardless of age. Rent doesn’t cost any less in your early 20s.”

She added that more needed to be done to ensure “decent and flexible” jobs were available to young people.

Young Women’s Trust advisory panel member Nia, 26, from Cardiff, said: “When I started work, I was working in a cafe and because I was under 25 I was paid a lower minimum wage.”

“It was exactly the same job and exactly the same number of hours as the older people I worked with, but at the end of the day I was taking home less money. I didn’t suddenly gain a lot more experience on my 25th birthday.”

The charity today launched a digital campaign and petition calling on the Government to extend the national living wage to under-25s.

2 Responses to Under-25s earn less for doing the same work, argues charity

  1. Avatar
    Derek Martin 11 Oct 2017 at 3:36 pm #

    There have always been wage / age differentials, this is nothing knew, however employers are able to pay their workforce with these rates as a minimum, they don`t just have to pay these rates and many like my own employer do not discriminate against younger people because of the age banding allowed.

  2. Avatar
    Sally 29 May 2019 at 6:29 pm #

    I think that under 25s should be paid by experience. When they start they should be paid at the lower rate, when they take on more responsibility or start to do the same amount of work or more than the older staff, they should be financially compensated for it.
    There are three jobs I’ve been in over the last 5 years where I’ve seen 3 under 25s (2 under 18s) doing more than the people over 25, one having to organise and sort out what the older staff members were doing during functions and getting paid pennies for it. They were managing at least 7 older staff members smoothly, and getting £5-something an hour, whilst the older staff were just following instructions at the rate of £7-something…

    I do not think it is fair at all that employers should even get the choice to pay these hard working under 25s less.

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