Young people missing out on key employment rights

We would hope that this doesn’t apply to the games industry, but a new TUC report has revealed that nearly three-quarters (72%) of young employees aged 16 to 24 miss out on key employment rights at work. 

young people employment rights

While some workplace rights for employees begin from day one of employment, others only kick in after two years of continuous service – including protection from unfair dismissal and the right to statutory redundancy pay. 

The new report – published at the end of TUC’s Young Workers’ Month – shows that employees aged 16 to 24 are far less likely to have built up two years of continuous service in the same job, so are much more likely to miss out on key protections. 

That means nearly three in four young employees (72%) don’t qualify for vital employment rights, compared to around one in four (27%) of working people aged 25 and over. 

Young people are also much more likely to be on zero-hours contracts – which means they are ‘workers’ (without employee status) who miss out on essential rights – like the right to request flexible working or the right to return to the same job after maternity, adoption, paternity or shared parental leave. 

Zero-hours contracts are characterised by low pay and variable hours. As a result, many zero-hours contract workers also miss out on key social security rights such as full maternity pay and paternity pay. 

One in seven (13%) 16 to 24-year-olds in employment are employed on a zero-hours contract – meaning they are around 5.5 times more likely to be on these contracts than workers aged 25 and over (2.4%).  

Women are hit harder – one in six (16%) young women in the jobs market are employed on a zero-hours contract. 

And young Black, minority and ethnic workers (BME) are 12 times more likely to be on a zero-hours contract than white workers aged 35 to 49 (15.9% compared to 1.4%). 

The report highlights that just under half a million young workers (474,000) are employed on a zero-hours contract. This means that despite only being around one in nine (11%) of the total workforce, 16 to 24-year-olds make up two in five (40%) of the 1.18 million workers employed on zero-hours contracts. 

And young workers are also paid less. Median hourly pay for 16 to 17-year-olds is £8 per hour and £10.90 for 18 to 21-year-olds, compared to £15.83 for all employees. This is partly because the National Living Wage (currently £10.42 per hour) does not kick in until an employee is 23. 

The Government has accepted the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations to increase the National Living Wage to £11.44 from April 2024, expand it to 21 and 22-year-olds, lift the rate to £8.60 for 18 to 20-year-olds, and to £6.40 for 16 to 17-year-olds and apprentices. 

These changes follow pressure from unions and low-pay campaigners. The TUC says that this is a positive step – but that the top rate must be made available to all working people, regardless of age. 

Even with these current announcements a 20-year-old doing the same minimum wage job as a 23-year-old will still be earning £2.93 per hour (28%) less. 

According to the latest Ukie Census, the UK games industry workforce has more younger people working in it than the overall UK workforce. The 13% of people working in games who are 25 or younger can be compared with a figure of 10% in the workforce, 

The TUC report: The new report on young workers is available at: 

Register or log in to get started in your organisation

Get our EDI news and guides straight to your inbox

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Login or Sign Up

You'll need an Empower Up members account to access this awesome content.

Our members get free access to:

Don't have an account? Sign up