This summary of age discrimination law in Mauritius has been prepared by Erriah Chambers: www.erriahchambers.com
Protection from discrimination is laid down in Article 16 of the Constitution of Mauritius which prohibits all forms of discrimination. The Constitution defines “discriminatory” as affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, caste, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another description are not made subject to or are accorded privileges or advantages that are not accorded to persons of another such description.
Age is not a protected ground within the Constitution of Mauritius, but legal protection in relation to age discrimination can be found in the Employment Rights Act 2008 and Employment Relations Act 2008 respectively.
Section 4 of the Employment Rights Act 2008 lays down the law on discrimination in employment and occupation and defines discrimination as:
“Affording different treatment to different workers attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by age, race, colour, caste, creed, sex, sexual orientation, HIV status, religion, political opinion, place of origin, national extraction or social origin, which has the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation.”
In addition, employment policies have been established in Code of Practice 46 of the Fourth Schedule of the Employment Relations Act 2008, which states that employment policies shall be positive to avoid discrimination of any kind as to occupation, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, colour, race, religion, HIV status, national extraction, social origin, political opinion or affiliation, and to promote equal opportunity in employment.
The protection granted by the Employment Rights Act 2008 and Employment Relations Act 2008 only covers employees.
What enforcement/remedies exist?
Both Section 4 of the Employment Rights Act 2008 and Code of Practice 46 of the Employment Relations Act 2008 are enforceable before the Court. The Court can hear disputes arising with regard to employment relationships and may order the employer to pay damages or compensation and to stop the discriminatory behaviour.
How common are claims?
Age discrimination claims are not very common in Mauritius.
Claims for unfair dismissal however, are very common and the Employment Rights Act 2008 establishes remedies and recourses available to an employee in the case of an unjustified (unlawful) dismissal by his employer. The employer is therefore required to abide by regulations and guidelines imposed by law before he can dismiss an employee. However, discrimination is merely based on age and most often it is based on other types of discrimination.
What claims are most common and what are the trickiest issues for employers?
Due to the introduction of Equality Law in Mauritius in 2010, claims based on age discrimination have become even more uncommon and are not really a subject of discussion.
The trickiest issue for employers in Mauritius is that an employee cannot be dismissed because of age discrimination as it is a protected ground under the Employment Rights Act 2008.
Are there any specific exceptions in your law?
The following are the most important exceptions in our law:
- Refusal to hire an employee because the type of work requires someone within certain age categories; and
- Differentiation based on length of service.
The retirement age for both men and women in Mauritius is 60 to 65.
There are no mandatory retirement provisions in our legislation but Section 49 of the Employment Rights Act 2008 covers gratuity on retirement, which states:
“An employer shall pay a gratuity to a worker who has been in continuous employment with him for a period of 12 months or more where –
a) The worker, on or after reaching the age of 60, retires voluntarily;
b) The worker, who has been in continuous employment with the same employer for no less than 10 years retires before the age of 60 on the grounds of permanent incapacity to perform his work and such incapacity is duly certified by a government medical practitioner; or
c) The worker, on or after reaching the retirement age, retires at the request of the employer.”