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Written Answers. - Employment Equality Legislation.

Thursday, 17 October 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 555 No. 4

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 24. Mr. S. Ryan Information on Seán Ryan Zoom on Seán Ryan  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  his proposals to amend the Employment Equality Act, 1998, as it applies to the upper age limit for employment, as this is deemed to be discriminatory by various groups representing older people. [18483/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell The Employment Equality Act, 1998 prohibits discrimination in relation to employment on nine grounds, namely, gender, [1139] marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community. The Act is comprehensive and deals with all areas relevant to employment including access to employment, conditions of employment, remuneration, promotion and vocational training. At present, the Act outlaws discrimination, under the age ground, between employees or prospective employees in the age range 18 to 65, except in the case of vocational training, where the Act applies to persons over the minimum school leaving age and under 65. Sixty-five is the upper age limit under the age ground as it is deemed to be the usual retirement age in Ireland. However, while 65 is the upper age limit under the age ground, there is no age limit under the other eight grounds.

The Employment Equality Act, 1998, including the provisions under the age ground, is currently being examined in the context of the implementation of Directive 2000/43/EC (Race Directive) and Directive 2000/78/EC (Framework Employment Directive) which were adopted under Article 13 of the EC Treaty in 2000. The purpose of the framework employment directive is to provide a general framework for the prohibition of discrimination in relation to employment and occupation on grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. The directive allows for differences of treatment on grounds of age where the treatment can be objectively and reasonably justified by a legitimate aim and if the means of achieving the aim are appropriate and necessary.

The directive must be implemented by 2 December 2003. However, in order to take account of particular conditions, member states may, if necessary, have an additional three years from 2 December 2003, i.e. to 2 December 2006, to implement the provisions of the directive on age and disability discrimination.

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