THE issue of ‘equal pay for equal work’ is one that has spanned several decades and is currently covered under the Equality Act of 2010, which makes clear guarantees of equal pay for gender, ethnicity and sexuality.
So why are workers aged 22–29 years experiencing pay gaps of over 20 per cent in relation to those in the 40-49 age range? Is there no legislation that makes the same guarantees based on age?
There is a clear injustice and disparity on pay levels between young people and their fellow colleagues, and action must be taken. This is most clear in the minimum wage as the current rate (set to rise in April) pays £7.83 an hour for those aged 25 and over compared to only £4.20 an hour for 16 to 18-year-olds.
Also, the National Living Wage is only applicable to those aged over 25. At the end of the day, whether you are young, middle-aged or of pensioner age, living costs are the same and pay must reflect that.
By excluding all those under 25, including many who have to support themselves and others i.e. young carers and care leavers, the Government is creating –and allowing – real struggle and hardship for many young people who, only through working and trying to earn their way in life, are being financially punished for their own age.
Last autumn, 12,872 young people across the Yorkshire and Humber region voted for this issue as their top priority in the Make Your Mark survey, the largest youth consultation in Europe, with over a million young people taking part nationwide. This shows how much of an issue it is for so many young people, in particular to those who are employed, many on predominantly low-paid, short-term contracts.
Youth employment should develop the skills of organisation, professionalism and adaptability. Instead, young people are faced with a number of insecurities around pay levels and working hours which distract them from the true value of work for them.
I urge you all to support the British Youth Council’s campaign for ‘equal work for equal pay’.
It is simply unacceptable that companies and employers are able to discriminate against their employees in this way.
All workers should expect a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, and we must get the ball rolling on introducing legislation that will make this a reality.
With economic uncertainty and a lack of proactiveness from the Government, now, more than ever, is the time for true ‘equal pay for equal work’.