Junior pay, senior responsibilities: The experiences of child care workers
Australian Early Childhood Association
Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
School of International, Cultural and Community Studies
The child care industry has provision in awards for junior wages. Juniors aged between 14 and 16 years receive 50 per cent of the minimum adult wage, and this increases until the adult wage is received at age 21. However, regulations do not specify responsibilities for junior workers. This study indicates there are many occasions when junior workers are required to undertake the same responsibilities as adult workers. This is of concern as the International Labour Organisation suggests that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work' is of importance. This study documents examples of junior workers required to work extra hours without pay, or to remain unpaid on the premises until numbers necessitate their presence. Junior workers appear more open to this type of exploitation as they tend not to question such requirements, nor to fight for their rights. If the child care industry is to retain junior wages, it needs to take responsibility for meeting the special needs of junior staff.