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Age Discrimination

Volume 407: debated on Thursday 19 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps his Department is taking to address the issue of age discrimination. [109448]

The Northern Ireland Office aims to ensure that its staff are treated fairly and equally by promoting equal opportunities policies whereby no employee or job applicant is unfairly discriminated against either directly or indirectly on a number of grounds, including age. All staff are provided with a copy of this policy.In addition, in compliance with its statutory duty under section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, the Department has due regard to the promotion of equality of opportunity between persons in nine specified categories, which include persons of different ages. Both internal and outward focused policies and practices are screened to ensure that they do not have an adverse impact on any of the nine categories, including those of different ages.None of the Department's policies has age restrictions except in relation to retirement. Since 4 October 2002, Northern Ireland Civil Servants employed in the Northern Ireland Office have had the option of remaining in post up to the age of 65, subject to satisfactory performance and attendance. For Home Civil Service staff working in the Northern Ireland Office, the subject of retirement age is under review. Staff were made aware of the change of policy by means of a general circular issued on that date.For Home Civil Service staff working in the Northern Ireland Office, the subject of retirement age is under consideration.The 11 Departments within the Northern Ireland Administration refer the hon. Member to their answer to the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Dodds) on 18 March 2003,

Official Report, column 650W.