Dáil Éireann - Volume 413 - 19 November, 1991
Written Answers. - Employment Legislation.
Mr. T. O'Sullivan Mr. T. O'Sullivan
90. Mr. T. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Labour if he will introduce regulations to the employment Acts to prevent discrimination on the grounds of age in (1) recruitment, (2) selection for promotion, (3) redundancy and (4) conditions of employment; and if he will review the US labour law legislation on the matter (details supplied) in addition to the labour laws of members states of the European Community.
Minister for Labour (Mr. O'Kennedy) Michael O'Kennedy
Minister for Labour (Mr. O'Kennedy): The legislation relating to conditions of employment administered by my Department, with the exception of the Protection of Young Persons Act, 1977, applies to workers regardless of their age. The purpose of Protection of Young Persons Act, 1977 is to extend the scope of legislative protection given to young persons under the age of 18 and, therefore, could not be described as discriminatory.
The Redundancy Payments Acts, 1967 to 1991 apply to employees between the ages of 16 and 66. The Acts require that an employer who dismisses an employee by reason of redundancy, supplies the employee with a redundancy certificate stating the reasons for the redundancy. If the reason given relates solely to the employee's age, this is not a valid reason for redundancy as defined under the redundancy payments acts. In such a situation, or in any situation where an employee feels that he or she has been unfairly selected for redundancy on the grounds of age, the employee is entitled to bring a claim seeking redress under the unfair dismissals act to the employment appeals tribunal which will determine the matter.
 The commitment in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress to increase upper age limits for recruitment to the public service is being implemented. This should provide a stimulus to both the wider public and private sectors. The upper age limit for recruitment to most posts have been increased to 50 years for the Civil Service, health boards and local authorities.
With regard to promotion, this is a matter for individual employers, provided they comply with the requirements of the employment equality legislation.
I have no plans to introduce further regulations to provide for the prohibition of age limits in all the circumstances covered by the Deputy's question. I am not convinced that legislation is a necessary or even an appropriate means of promoting better access for older persons to the available opportunities on the labour market. In the present economic environment further regulation of the labour market in this area could be damaging to job creation and impose added costs on employers.
Where a legislative approach has been adopted, as in the USA, it stemmed from demographic concerns and fears about the practice of prematurely terminating the employment of older people. No similar circumstances apply in Ireland, where the demographic structure is markedly different to that in the USA in the late 1960s.
Dáil Éireann 413 Written Answers. Employment Legislation.