Federal age discrimination becomes law

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Federal age discrimination becomes law

The first separate federal age discrimination laws were passed by the Senate last night and will commence later this year after they receive Royal Assent.

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The first separate federal age discrimination laws were passed by the Senate last night and will commence later this year after they receive Royal Assent.  

The Federal Age Discrimination Bill 2003 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person because of their age.

The scope of the Bill covers all aspects of deciding who should be offered work, determining wages and conditions, access to training, promotion, transfers or other benefits, dismissing an employee or subjecting employees to any detriment. (See previous story).

The new laws also extend beyond the workplace into other aspects of daily life.

The laws passed after the ALP and the Democrats agreed to drop their amendments. However, while both parties see some merit in the unamended Bill, they remain unconvinced that it will have a major impact on age discrimination.

ALP Senator Joe Ludwig said in Parliament that the Bill still contained loopholes that allowed age discrimination in certain circumstances.

The Bill contains the following age discrimination exemptions:

  • in the application of youth wages;

  • employing a person to perform domestic duties where the employer is the resident of the home where the duties are performed;

  • if an employee, labour-hire worker, commission agent, contractor , partner or member of a professional body  is unable to carryout the inherent requirements of their job because of their age -  in deciding whether the person is unable to carry out the requirements the person’s relevant training, qualifications, experience and, if they are already employed by the employer, performance must be considered;

  • employing defence force employees;

  • providing superannuation;

  • complying with an order or award of a court or tribunal having power to fix minimum wages; complying with a certified agreement (within the meaning of the Workplace Relations Act 1996);

  • complying with an Australian workplace agreement (within the meaning of the Workplace Relations Act 1996); and

  • acting in response to exemptions granted by the Human Rights and equal opportunities commission.

Democrat Senator Brian Greig told the Parliament he was disappointed that the Bill lacks provisions:

  • for a dedicated age discrimination commissioner;

  • concerning discrimination based on a person relative or associate;

  • to guard against age discrimination in unpaid work;

  • for people discriminated on the basis of age and disability from seeking redress under both age and disability laws;

  • preventing harassing people because of their age; and

  • an objective test for positive discrimination.

He was also concerned that the dominant reason test remained in the Bill (see previous story).

Liberal Senator Judith Troeth rejected ALP and Democrat concerns. ‘The amendments moved originally in the Senate by the opposition and the Democrats were not necessary and they were rightly rejected by the House of Representatives,’ she said.

‘In our view they would only have compromised the effectiveness of the bill. For example, the amendment purporting to extend the bill to unpaid work would undesirably fetter the voluntary sector.’

For a copy of the Bill go to the Parlinfo website.

For a copy of the parliamentary debate on the passing of the Bill go to the federal Parliament House website.

For a full copy of the ALP and democrat amendments rejected by the Government go to the Parlinfo website.

Related

The age of reason: sorting out the Federal Age Discrimination Bill 2003

Mixed findings on Federal Age Discrimination Bill

New Federal Age Discrimination Bill hits House of Reps

 

 

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