The unequal treatment of older and younger people in the workplace

For young career starters, a decent­ly remu­ner­at­ed full-time job is more the excep­tion than the rule. “Gen­er­a­tion Intern­ship” are often expect­ed to work for free, often for many years, before they can get a pro­fes­sion­al job. Young peo­ple are now treat­ed as sec­ond-class workers.

More than half of young employ­ees are engaged in poor­ly paid, pre­car­i­ous work. Tem­po­rary agency work has almost dou­bled among young employ­ees. Every sec­ond new hire is hired based on a short-term con­tract. Only one in three young peo­ple who do com­plete an intern­ship are then tak­en on for an indef­i­nite peri­od. Young work­ers also have less legal pro­tec­tion against dis­missals and are dis­missed more quick­ly. Young peo­ple are far more at risk of pover­ty than old­er peo­ple and less well looked-after by the wel­fare state.

Struc­tur­al dis­crim­i­na­tion against young peo­ple in the labour mar­ket must end:

  1. Exploita­tive short-term employ­ment must be pro­hib­it­ed. Sub­con­tract­ed labour, ser­vice con­tracts and mini-jobs must be fair.
  2. The min­i­mum wage must also pro­tect young peo­ple from pover­ty and exploita­tion. There must be no min­i­mum age for the min­i­mum wage.
  3. Legal and trade union pro­tec­tions against unfair dis­missal must also apply to younger people.
  4. Voca­tion­al train­ing must be strengthened.
  5. Pay must not be based on age. Start­ing salaries have to be raised, paid for by small­er pay ris­es for old­er people.
  6. Job cen­tres sanc­tion­ing young peo­ple more harsh­ly must end.
  7. Age based dis­crim­i­na­tion must be explic­it­ly pro­hib­it­ed in the Basic Law (Grundge­setz).
  8. Demo­graph­ic change and age­ing pop­u­la­tions mean we need to think more seri­ous­ly about how to make the world of work work for all age groups.
  9. We need more invest­ment in edu­ca­tion and train­ing to deal with demo­graph­ic change. Young peo­ple need to take cen­tre stage.