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Young Employees

Published May 10, 2018 (last updated on December 4, 2023) | Adam Wyatt - Copywriter and Content Creator

Young Employees

In-between managing school, social life and plans for further education or employment, young people will eventually transition from the schoolyard into the workforce. Young employees can be beneficial for a business, but they can also present unique challenges. Young workers are considered vulnerable employees due to their inexperience in the workplace, and the potential for exploitation. They may be unfamiliar with health and safety risks, and not always confident enough to speak up.

Why Hire Young People?

Hiring young talent is good for business. Companies who seek out young talent in the local community are deemed to be more attractive places to work. By tapping into the youth employment market, you demonstrate the company’s ability to embrace new ways of thinking and show your optimism towards the new generation of workers.

Other reasons for hiring young people include:

  • allowing staff and managers to improve their coaching or training skills

  • bringing new ideas and ways of thinking into older, more established industries

  • becoming a positive influence on young people and guiding them towards better employment opportunities

  • creating a positive brand image for the company

  • a more energetic and relevant industry

How Much To Pay Young Employees

Employees under 18 years of age are subject to the same fair bargaining rules for employment agreements as adult employees. However, there is a pay scale for young workers that employers should be aware of.

  • there is no minimum wage for employees under the age of 16, but employers must remember to start paying the correct minimum wage after the employee turns 16

  • the ‘starting out’ minimum wage applies to new entrants or trainees aged 16-17 years of age, unless they have completed 200 hours or three months of employment

  • the ‘training’ minimum wage applies to workers aged 16 and over who are doing at least 60 credits of industry recognised training per year

Minimum Wage – 1 April 2022

As of 1 April 2022, the current minimum wage rates (before tax) apply to the following workers aged 16 years or over:

  • Adult Minimum Wage: $21.20 Per Hour

  • Starting-Out Minimum Wage: $16.96 Per Hour

  • Training Minimum Wage: $16.96 Per Hour

Young employees must find the right balance between work and school obligations. Employers who hire school students must be careful the job does not interfere with school attendance. This means employees under 16 years cannot work during school hours, before 6am or after 10 pm on school nights. There are no restrictions on how many hours an employee under 16 years can work on weekends or during school holidays.

Age Restrictions

Employees under the age of 18 are not allowed to work in a licensed area used for the purpose of selling liquor. There are exceptions to this rule if the employee is hired to:

  • prepare and sell food

  • clean, repair or maintain equipment

  • alter or restock the area with supplies or equipment

  • check or remove cash

  • remove and replace equipment

Employees under 18 are also not allowed to work in areas where a license has been obtained to operate gaming machines. For employees under 20 years, they cannot work in parts of a casino where there is gambling and they cannot perform any gambling-related tasks.

How To Manage Young People

For many young people, their first job is a way to fund their lifestyle and keep themselves busy during time off school. If the job is part-time or a casual position, the job may not be a clear indication of their future career ambitions.

Regardless, youth employment is a chance to develop a positive work ethic, understand the expectations of being in the workforce, and learn new skills to improve their employment opportunities later in life.

Here are some helpful tips for employers hiring young workers:

  • educate the importance of showing up on time

  • explain that showing up late for work means their co-workers or employers will have to make up for the loss of time

  • encourage them to act professionally and be respectful towards members of the public

  • provide an employee handbook detailing policies and procedures specific to the business

  • walk all employees around the work premises and identify all risks

  • encourage reporting of workplace hazards

  • ensure there is a way new starters can make bullying complaints

For further advice on how to legally hire and manage young employees in the workplace, contact Employsure on 0800 568 012.

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