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What are 'Youth (or Junior) Rates'?

Ever wondered why you (or younger workers in your workplace) might be getting paid less than their older co-workers for doing the same job?

It's because we have a specific rates for young workers, called youth rates (or sometimes junior rates), that are less than minimum wage. They've been around for ages and if you are under 16, it could even be as low as about 37% of minimum wage.

Basically the idea behind youth rates is that we have to incentivise businesses to hire more young people because they don't have the same skills or competencies as older workers.  So how do you know what you are supposed to be paid if it's not the same as your older co-workers?

Check your award or agreement.

How do I find out if I'm on an award or agreement?

  1. Check your contract
  2. Visit Fair Work's Find your agreement or check your award tools
  3. Ask for help - we are happy to help you!

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) have helpfully created a table of the absolute minimum you should be receiving. You can read their full post about the minimum wage here.

Age Percentage Hourly minimum
Under 16 36.8% $8.55
16 47.3% $10.99
17 57.8% $13.43
18 68.3% $15.87
19 82.5% $19.16
20 97.7% $22.70

So after your birthday you should get a nice present of an increased pay rate. It's important to know that many young people should be receiving a higher pay than that table above. Some awards like the Restaurant Award are significantly higher.

Age Percentage

16 and under










There's even clauses in certain awards that say if a young worker is doing a certain role then they should be being paid the adult rates. The most common example of this is if you are serving alcohol. So it's always worth checking your award or agreement find your correct rate.

Still not sure? Leave a comment or get in touch with us at or on 0448 681 116.

P.S. Don't forget, if you've been underpaid you have six years to claim it!