The Government’s Bill extending age-based discrimination in minimum wages breaches the Bill of Rights and should be struck down, FIRST Union said today.
The Green Party yesterday lodged a Human Rights Commission complaint over the government’s youth rates law arguing that the proposals would discriminate on the basis of employment status, given the proposals specify different minimum wages based on whether 18 or 19 year olds have accessed a benefit for 6 months of longer.
FIRST Union covers hundreds of young workers, especially in the retail sector.
The union’s General Secretary Robert Reid was a Parliamentary Advisor to then Green MP, Sue Bradford when her Bill to abolish youth rates went through Parliament in 2006.
He says that youth rates overall have dubious legality.
“Every Bill going through Parliament requires legal advice from the Ministry of Justice to the Attorney General as to its consistency with the New Zealand Bill of Rights 1990.”
“Commenting on the Bradford Bill in 2006, the Attorney General was advised that the bill appeared to have been superfluous, as existing youth rates were inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act.”
“The government lawyers said it followed that “any (minimum wage) orders made under the principal Act that are inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act may be deemed ultra vires.”
“Young workers are expected to work just as hard as older colleagues. They don’t get to stack shelves or serve food 20 per cent slower, yet employers can pay them less.”
“Given the questionable legality of youth rates overall, and in relation to employment status as the Greens have correctly identified, we look forward to the Human Rights Commission advising that this law should be throw out,” Robert Reid said.