Discrimination on age grounds can be experienced by everyone and, as with other forms of discrimination, it is based on assumptions about a person´s attributes and abilities, rather than on a rational assessment of the individual.
On 1 October 2006, the majority of the provisions of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (Northern Ireland) (the Regulations) came into force, covering the area of age discrimination in employment and training (including Further and Higher Education). The Equality Commission had previously responded to the two consultation exercises on the theme of age discrimination in Northern Ireland.
The Commission has broadly welcomed the introduction of the Age Regulations. However, we are aware of some issues in the regulations that are problematic. These include:
- the setting of a "default retirement age" of 65;
- broad justification defence for discriminatory acts (direct and indirect);
- broad exemptions from coverage of the regulations rather than the more restrictive approach required by European law;
- lack of coverage for goods, facilities and services (GFS) outside of the employment field; and
- lack of awareness among employers and employees that the regulations apply to all employees from 13 upwards.
Parts of the regulations are being challenged through Judicial Review in London by Heyday, a retirement lobbying organisation, in conjunction with Age Concern England, and the Commission is currently developing a strategic approach to addressing age discrimination generally.
Our responses to other organisations´ positions on age discrimination are available through the link on the left hand side of the page, and our strategic approach to age will be finalised shortly.