Covid-19: Protection of Young Workers

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons on 22nd July 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Chris Stephens Chris Stephens Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Fair Work and Employment)

What steps the Government are taking to help ensure that young workers are protected during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

We have supported people to make a claim for universal credit if they have lost their jobs. We are strengthening our youth offer for 18 to 24-year-olds. This includes introducing a tailored 13-week programme, new youth hubs, and DWP specialist youth employability work coaches. Meanwhile, young people can be referred to apprenticeships or work-related training at any stage.

Photo of Chris Stephens Chris Stephens Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Fair Work and Employment)

I thank the Minister for that answer. However, Glasgow South West constituent Caitlyn Lee, who has worked for the Blythswood Square hotel for five years, will receive only £580 in redundancy pay, which barely covers one month’s rent, because, under statutory redundancy pay law, young workers under the age of 22 are entitled to half a week’s pay whereas workers over 40 get one and a half weeks’ pay. Will the Government address this discrimination, and what will they do to mitigate the mass redundancies of young workers so that they are not disadvantaged any further?

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this issue. Young people can be at a particular disadvantage, perhaps due to their limited work experience, and they might potentially have a lower skills level. I am concerned to hear about this issue. Our jobcentres are already talking to claimants about the support they can give to young people and signposting them to places that can support them into employment, such as the National Careers Service, in giving advice on how they can look for further work. We have also announced our new kick-start scheme for Great Britain—a £2 billion fund to support young people at risk of long-term unemployment.

Photo of Anne McLaughlin Anne McLaughlin Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Women), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Equalities)

My fantastic god-daughter, Toniann, is 17. During lockdown, instead of studying, or even watching boxsets, she became a key worker and helped to keep the economy going. For that, she was paid £4.55 per hour. Does the Minister think that Toniann and other people her age are worth any more than that, and if so, will she stand up for the young people of these islands and urge the Chancellor to make it compulsory for employers using the kick-start scheme to top up this frankly insulting and free—to them—wage?

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I am passionate about supporting our young people to get the opportunities they need, and for this, the kick-start programme is vital. My officials are engaging with the devolved authorities about how we can make the eligibility criteria attractive and wide-ranging. We are looking at the detail and will set it out so that everyone can understand how to get involved and get these opportunities at the start of August.