Age discrimination protections should be extended to cover the provision of goods, facilities and services, according to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.
Dr Evelyn Collins CBE, chief executive of the Commission, issued a call for the introduction of new age discrimination measures on the tenth anniversary of age discrimination in employment being made unlawful.
The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (Northern Ireland) were made on 13 June 2006 and the first tribunal decision under the legislation was made in 2008.
A firm was found guilty of unlawful discrimination after calling for a candidate with “youthful enthusiasm” in an advertisement for a timber salesman. A 58-year-old man with years of experience in the field, who was rejected for the post, received £70,000 in compensation.
Dr Collins said: “The law in Great Britain was extended to provide protection against age discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services in 2010. Although the Northern Ireland Executive included a commitment to introduce similar legislation for Northern Ireland in its Programme for Government 2011-2015, and a consultation on a proposal for legislation was conducted in 2015, no such law was passed in the term of the last Assembly.
“The Executive Office is now consulting on a Framework for the next Programme for Government. While this does not make any specific reference to Age Discrimination legislation, the Equality Commission trusts that work to bring forward the necessary legislation will continue, and that the Executive will move swiftly to fill this serious gap in our equality laws. People are entitled to have protection against age discrimination when they are accessing goods, facilities or services – just as people in Great Britain have had for the past six years.
“This is a serious deficit and we are seeking to have it addressed so that people of all ages are protected against discrimination when carrying out basic social and economic activities such as using health or financial services, purchasing goods, or accessing facilities and commercial premises.”