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National Minimum Wage rate should not be age-related

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Young people want a single National Minimum Wage to be a top priority for the Government over the next year.

The British Youth Council (BYC), made up of young people aged between 14 and 25, has given evidence to the Government's Youth Commission that paying employees under 18 less than those over 22 for doing the same job is discriminatory.

Currently staff aged under 18, who are not in full-time education, receive £3.40 per hour as a minimum wage. This rises to £4.60 at age 18 and again to £5.52 when an employee turns 22. The council is lobbying with the Low Pay Commission to have the three-tier system removed.

The BYC is also campaigning for apprentices aged under 19 to be entitled to a National Minimum Wage as they currently are not. A report from the council shows that 90% of visitors to its website do not believe apprentices should be treated differently.

Eighteen-year-old Scott Forbes (pictured), campaigns volunteer at BYC, said: "I'm glad the BYC is committed to calling for an equal National Minimum Wage for everyone aged over 16. This is an issue that's important to the everyday lives of lots of young people."

He added: "Currently the system unnecessarily discriminates against young people based on their age. Equal work simply deserves equal pay".

Audrey Williams, partner in the human resources group at law firm Eversheds, said: "Age discrimination laws do not have an effect on Minimum Wage because it is carved out in statute, so the BYC does not have a legal case, however they have a social arguement. A 16 year old could put in the same amount of work as a 22 year old and get significantly different pay."

She added: "A lot of the time older workers and retirment ages are discussed when it comes to age discrimination but I dont sense the same level of provision for younger people."