This summary of age discrimination law in Malawi has been prepared by Savjani & Co www.savjaniandco.mw.
Discrimination is prohibited in the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi. Section 20 (1) of the Constitution provides that:
“Discrimination of persons in any form is prohibited and all persons are, under any law, guaranteed equal and effective protection against discrimination on grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, nationality, ethnic or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status.”
Section 20 (1) cover State action, and separate statutory provisions, which cover private as well as public discrimination. Although the Constitution does not expressly name age as a prohibited ground for discrimination, in our view, the status of age would be included in the catch all phrase “other status”.
Section 5(1) of the Employment Act also provides that:
“No person shall discriminate against any employee or prospective employee on the grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, nationality, ethnic or social origin, disability, property, birth, marital or other status or family responsibilities in respect of recruitment, training, promotion, terms and conditions of employment, termination of employment or other matters arising out of the employment relationship.”
Although the section 5 (1) of the Employment Act does not specifically refer to age, and sets out an exhaustive list of grounds to against discrimination, any interpretation of this provision must be read with section 20 (1) of the Constitution. In our view, therefore, age can be included as a prohibited ground for discrimination.
No person under the age of 14 shall be employed or work in any public or private agricultural, industrial or non-industrial undertaking unless such work is conducted at home or at a training institution that is approved and supervised by a public authority. The Employment Act provides that no person between the ages of 14 years and 18 years will carry on employment that is harmful to their health, well-being and prejudicial to their education. This overlaps with the Constitution which also provides that children under the age of 16 years are entitled to protection from economic exploitation or any treatment, work or punishment that is, or is likely to be hazardous; interfere with their education; or be harmful to their health or to their physical, mental or spiritual or social development.
The Pension Act does not set a fixed retirement age, instead it provides that a retirement age will be stipulated in the rules of each pension fund, but must be between the age of 50 years and 70 years. General members of a pension fund cannot receive payment of pension benefits before attaining the age of retirement specified in the rules of their pension fund. However, the Pension Act also provides specific exceptions to this requirement.
There are no interesting age discrimination cases in Malawi.