Employment Equality Bill, 1997 [ Seanad ]: Report and Final Stages.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 are related to amendment No. 1 and we may take amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 3 together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 12, between lines 31 and 32, to insert the following:

"(j) that one has a particular political opinion or belief and the other does not ('the political opinion ground').".

In discussing this amendment, I will also discuss those relating to the trade union membership ground. There was extensive discussion of this issue on Committee Stage and I reiterate the view I held then that these additional grounds should be included in the Bill, especially the political opinion ground in the context of the British-Irish Agreement. Its inclusion would put us in line with Northern Ireland in terms of safeguarding people who might be discriminated against as regards employment because of their political opinions. There should be similar safeguards in legislation here, especially with the introduction of this Bill which it is hoped will safeguard people against discrimination in employment. There should be no possibility of discrimination on the grounds of either political opinion or of trade union membership. I feel strongly about the trade union ground and there has been evidence recently that employees have been or might be discriminated against because they joined or wished to join a trade union. Both are extremely important safeguards which should be included in any legislation which aims to guard against discrimination in places of employment or in the seeking of employment. I propose that both amendments Nos. 1 and 2 should be accepted.

This is an important ground to be included in a Bill dealing with equality. The Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act, 1971, which was updated and expanded in 1989, covers discrimination on the grounds of religious belief and political opinion. It is important that such grounds be included in the legislation and I would like to hear the reasons for not including them. This issue is relevant, particularly in the current climate, the type of legislation marked in the British-Irish Agreement and the aspirations included in it in the context of treating people of different political opinions and aspirations with respect. It is important, given the changing political landscape and the cross-Border bodies being established, that legislation ensures people cannot be discriminated against because of their political opinions. It would be reassuring for many to see it built into our legislation and it is the right way to go, particularly at this time. Does the Minister of State expect to be able to include it in the legislation? Judging by the amendments tabled, it does not seem she is. It is important it be included in legislation soon, given the points I have made.

I support these amendments. One result of this Bill will be the definition of the areas in employment in which it will be illegal to discriminate. The corollary is that the areas not included will be deemed to be legal for discrimination. Many employers may assume that, if something is not prohibited in this legislation, they may then be free to discriminate on those grounds. My concern about trade union membership and political opinions is that circumstances could arise where discrimination could occur on those grounds and where the employee affected would not have redress under the Bill.

A serious anomaly will be created in labour law. Under dismissals legislation, it is illegal to dismiss someone on grounds of trade union membership or of political opinion. Under this Bill, it will be legal to discriminate against someone in employment because they are a member of a trade union or because they hold a political opinion which does not find favour with their employer. It is a serious omission to leave political opinion and trade union membership out of the legislation. By so doing the Minister of State and the Government are signalling to employers that it will be legal and acceptable to discriminate against people on the grounds of trade union membership or political opinion.

There is merit in exploring the options for extending the scope of the legislation along the lines proposed. The amendments identify trade union membership and political opinion in addition to the nine discriminatory grounds already provided for and are some of the range of options for amendments which could be suggested. Progress has been achieved on this difficult Bill because the scope, although broad, has remained focused.

The focus in the Bill has been to give effect to the Government's commitment to enact legislation which would outlaw discrimination on the nine grounds in the Bill: sex, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religious belief, age, disability, race and membership of the travelling community. In giving effect to that commitment it has been necessary to consider each specific ground and legislate differently in respect of each, while at the same time securing progress towards a single, general, coherent, anti-discrimination Bill.

The addition of new grounds would merit similar research and consultation. Major issues would fall to be resolved before they could be dealt with in legislation. I would be concerned about any delay which such preparatory work would entail. Decisions would fall to be taken on a range of complex issues such as: the limits on political activity in some branches of the public service, the Defence Forces and the Garda Síochána; the extent and nature of exclusions to cater for existing legitimate practices which often operate on a party political basis and the questions relating to trade union membership and freedom of association. Accordingly, I regard the principles for change to the Bill contained in these amendments as matters for another time. Deputies will be aware from the complexity of the Bill that additions to its scope would involve considerably more drafting work and policy development than the simple amendment of section 6.

I am sympathetic to the principle in the amendments but I cannot accept them at this stage because we have been trying to proceed with this anti-discrimination measure for a long time. I do not think I could introduce new grounds at the eleventh hour.

We expected this would be the Minister of State's response. During the debate in the Seanad, she indicated that these additional grounds would be considered when reviewing the Bill in two years. Can she clarify that this is the case?

Every aspect of the Bill can be reviewed in two years, including the measures spoken of by the Deputy.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 not moved.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 13, between lines 29 and 30, to insert the following:

(c) the work is exclusively or mainly performed by persons of the same gender, and where there is no comparator within the meaning of subsection (3)(a) of this section the position of a comparator within the meaning of subsection (3)(a) of this section shall be replaced by a notional comparator,

(d) a notional comparator shall be a person employed in work of a similar nature to that done by the primary worker and any differences between the work performed and conditions under which it is performed by the primary worker and the notional comparator are of small importance in relation to the work as a whole, or, occur with such irregularity as not to be significant,".

This amendment has been discussed since the beginning of the debate on this Bill in this House and in the Seanad. It seeks to include the concept of a notional comparator in the legislation. This would mean that people on low pay who do not have a similar group of the other gender with whom to compare themselves, would be able to have their remuneration considered in the context of comparisons with similar work.

I accept that minimum wage legislation will assist in this area. I hope, we will have such legislation in the near future. Opposition Members and the Minister of State wish to include the concept of a notional comparator in the Bill. It seeks to protect workers on low pay who cannot compare their work. Primarily, these are female workers engaged in work which has no male comparison wage level up to which they can bring their pay. This is an important concept and I hope the Minister of State can include it in the legislation.

This amendment addresses the notion of having someone with whom one can compare one's work in equal pay cases or when seeking pay increases. We have had difficulty including this concept in legislation as it is a complex issue. It has been discussed over many years in the context of employment equality legislation. This arises because, traditionally, women have often been grouped in low paid employment and because there is a difficulty in obtaining a comparator for tackling discrimination in the areas in question. I hope this will be less of a problem as the economy improves. Legislation on a minimum wage and the range of initiatives to tackle low pay will begin to take effect. However, low pay is still a reality as highlighted by reports from the Employment Equality Agency.

The question arises as to how work in low paid sectors where women predominate can be compared for the purposes of eliminating discrimination. It is difficult to develop a model for this but it is equally obvious that this needs attention. Despite equal pay and opportunities, women predominate in low paid employment. They are and will increasingly become atypical employees as the labour market changes.

According to a recent report by the Employment Equality Agency these workers are mostly employed in three sectors: services, clerical and a narrow range of professions. There have been some dramatic changes which receive a lot of media attention. However, sometimes these changes highlight the lack of earning power of many women and the low income of many others. This is why it is important to include this amendment.

The two sections are intended to address this issue and develop a method of comparison so that these matters can be tackled where there is discrimination in low paid sectors. Over many years the Employment Equality agency has found that there is a problem because of the lack of a comparator. The Minister of State should accept these amendments in order to deal with this issue.

This amendment is prompted by Deputies' concerns on low pay. Low pay is a different matter and needs to be addressed in separate legislation. So far as is possible in this legislation, I have expanded rights to equal pay. For example, the place requirement restriction which existed in the previous legislation is deleted from this Bill. I am also providing that a comparison can be made with the previous incumbent of a job and not necessarily with a person who is currently employed. I am also giving new powers to the Equality Authority to develop statutory codes of practice which may be harnessed to strengthen the movement towards equal pay.

The European Commission published a code of practice on equal pay in 1996. The code aims to provide concrete advice for employers and trade unionists to ensure that the principle of equality between women and men performing work of equal value is applied in all aspects of pay. Developing a suitable national code of practice on equal pay which could be given statutory basis under the Bill can be discussed with the Equality Authority when it is in place. I draw Deputies' attention to the new powers of the authority to carry out equality reviews and action plans. These powers provide the potential to examine pay practices in organisations with a view to eliminating inequalities based on discriminatory assumptions or practices. As Deputy Fitzgerald said, it proved impossible to develop a viable model for a hypothetical comparator to achieve the intended results. We have reluctantly come to conclusions about the viability of a statutory-based approach so far as the Bill is concerned. Interest in the concept was grounded in the search for a means for tackling the vertical and horizontal segregation of the labour market. We hope what is contained in the Bill will be of support.

The programme for Government, An Action Programme for the Millennium, includes as a key priority the introduction of a national minimum hourly wage. To give effect to that commitment, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment established a national minimum wage commission to examine the issue. The commission published its report, which has been widely circulated, in April. I understand the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment will, in the coming months, have extensive consultations with the social partners and other interested parties on the issue.

I would prefer if the legislation provided for the concept of a notional comparator but I will have to hope that this category of worker will be helped by the introduction of a national minimum wage to ensure they do not remain at the bottom of the pile.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 20, between the lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

"(d) In considering the reasonableness of the refusal or failure of an employer to provide for special treatment or facilities to which paragraph (a) relates, regard shall be had to all grants, special services, facilities, assistance and tax incentives available to that employer in respect of such provision.”.

This is an extremely important amendment. It deals with the rights of people with disabilities and arises from the decision of the Supreme Court that the original legislation was not in compliance with the Constitution. I am concerned at the use of the concept of nominal cost in arranging the workplace so that a person with a disability can be employed. While the amendment brought forward by the Minister of State on Committee Stage improved matters, I am still unhappy that employers are only asked to incur nominal costs in employing a person with a disability. It was my hope the legislation would safeguard the rights of people with disabilities in terms of access to employment in light of the fact that approximately 80 per cent of people with disabilities in the so-called Celtic tiger economy are unemployed.

It is extremely important that employers make a reasonable effort to alter the workplace in such a way that a person with a disability can be employed. According to information we have received from the United States, in the vast majority of cases the cost is not great. There are advantages. If the workplace is adapted it becomes easier to employ more than one person with a disability. The legislation should not create obstacles for people with disabilities, rather it should be inclusive and provide protection.

Under the amendment employers would have to have regard to all grants, special services, facilities, assistance and tax incentives available from the State to employ a person with a disability. In the vast majority of cases no additional costs will be incurred. I am seeking to ensure any loopholes are closed off. If this safeguard is not provided, I fear the legislation will have a negative rather than a positive effect on people with disabilities. There is general agreement that if we cannot safeguard the rights of people with disabilities, we may have to look at proposals to amend the Constitution. I therefore urge the Minister of State to accept the amendment.

I acknowledge the changes the Minister of State has made to the Bill which is much improved as a result. Following the Supreme Court judgment she had a difficult task to devise legislation that would be within the terms of the judgment and at the same time provide optimum support for the disabled. On the amendment, we want to make explicit what the Minister of State says is implicit in the Bill so that employers will be in no doubt that, when it comes to the assessment of costs, grants and State supports may not be included. The amendment reads:

In considering the reasonableness of the refusal or failure of an employer to provide for special treatment or facilities to which paragraph (a) relates, regard shall be had to all grants, special services, facilities, assistance and tax incentives available to that employer in respect of such provision.

None of the grants and facilities available in making adaptations for the disabled is on a statutory basis. We will begin to do this if the amendment is accepted. I therefore ask the Minister of State to consider it seriously.

There are huge attitudinal problems about employing people with disabilities among whom there is a high rate of unemployment. We must do whatever we can in legislation to be pro-active in tackling discrimination and removing the barriers which remain. Since strong disability legislation was introduced in the United States more than 800,000 people with severe disabilities have entered the workforce, an increase of 27 per cent. Generally, the costs involved were not high, under $500 in most cases. It is a question of allaying the fears of employers and making sure the grants available are availed of.

This is an important amendment about which I feel strongly. It would make what is implicit in the Bill explicit.

I support the amendment and ask the Minister of State to accept it. I do not believe there are any grounds for not accepting this amendment. It simply seeks to have considered, in the assessment the reasonableness of the refusal or failure of an employer to provide for special treatment, any grants, State assistance, subsidies and so on which are available to that employer. It is difficult to conceive of a situation where those circumstances would not be taken into account. The legislation should be clear on that. There is an important reason for it. We know the set of circumstances we inherited as a result of the Supreme Court decision in regard to this legislation, on the imposition of costs and so on. We have to accept that in regard to the constitutional parameters in which we operate. However, a distinction must be made between the case of employers where there are significant costs involved in employing a person with a disability and employers who do not bother to find out what assistance may be available. If they were to go to that trouble, they might find there is no additional cost or that the cost involved is negligible. It is important the legislation provides for that distinction.

Because the legislation provides for taking into account the grants which are available and so on, there are no grounds for the Minister to continue to refuse to accept this amendment. I understand the caution she expressed on Committee Stage about the constitutional parameters within which she must operate, given the Supreme Court decision, but I cannot see how this amendment could in any way conceivably impact or infringe on the decision of the Supreme Court on the earlier Bill. I ask the Minister, at this late stage, to accept the amendment.

Section 16(3) was amended on Committee Stage to state in clear terms an employer's obligations in relation to the provision of special treatment or facilities for a person with a disability. The Bill provides that an employer must make reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability, if that person would be capable of doing the job effectively with the assistance of special treatment or facilities, unless the provision of those special treatment or facilities would give rise to a cost other than a nominal cost to the employer.

The proposed amendment seeks to amend section 16(3) by the introduction of a new paragraph (d) which provides that in considering the reasonableness of the refusal or failure to provide special treatment or facilities, regard should be had to all grants, special services, facilities, assistance and tax incentives available to the employer. It is implicit in section 16(3) that in determining whether the provision of a special treatment or facilities gives rise to a cost to an employer, State supports available to the employer will be taken into account. It is implicit too that other supports from, perhaps, voluntary services, also fall to be taken into account.

Deputies can be assured we considered this matter in great detail. As I indicated on Committee Stage, it is not appropriate in the context of an anti-discrimination measure, such as this Bill, to put on a statutory basis requirements relating to the whole gambit of State aid. Such arrangements might well be established in a positive action measure for people with disabilities generally and not only for those who come within the scope of this Bill.

I listened to what the Deputies said, in particular, Deputy Fitzgerald's reference to the American disabilities Act. However, Deputies should bear in mind this is not a disabilities Bill or a positive action type Bill. It relates to people with disabilities and to eight other grounds of discrimination. This Bill deals with anti-discrimination, but the forthcoming disabilities Bill will have to take account of the proposals and suggestions submitted on positive action type measures. This is not a positive action Bill, but an anti-discrimination one. We all want to see legislation on the Statute Book covering nine grounds of discrimination. I also want to see legislation covering discrimination on the ground of disability, but I do not want to take any risk with this legislation.

We trawled through it and I thank Members for their comments on the positive improvements we made to it. As Deputy Fitzgerald said, it is much improved since we dealt with it in the Seanad. Members will appreciate we had a difficult task, but it was not for want of trying that we have tried to push this Bill to the limit.

Deputy O'Sullivan raised a concern. It is important to point out that if employees are not happy with how they have been treated by their employers, they can appeal their cases to the Director of Equality Investigations. This Bill is not a positive action type measure like the American disabilities Act.

I know Deputy Gilmore is concerned that employers might not bother to accommodate an employee with a disability. However, if I had a disability and my employer did not bother to accommodate me, I would bring a case to the Director of Equality Investigations. I would have a case because it is up to the employer to take into consideration all the supports available. We are not talking about the cost of adaptation, but the nominal cost to the employer. The cost of adaptation is covered by the grants and supports available and it will not impose a cost on the employer. That is an important point. We must ensure that people realise that when this Bill is enacted, employers will only be able to fight their case before the Director of Equality of Investigations if the cost involved is a cost on them.

Deputy Gilmore was concerned about the legal advice we have on this matter, our advice is that the provision contained in the Bill, which takes account of the changes in the Select Committee on Justice, Equality and Women's Rights, would be constitutionally viable, but there are concerns about proceeding further. We have made allowance for the retention of the disability ground in the Bill despite what happened in the Supreme Court in the past. There is no further room for manoeuvre here. The Supreme Court judgment on the 1996 Bill was critical of the requirement of an employer to disclose his or her financial circumstances to an outside party in order to claim undue hardship. We are concerned that the suggested amendment, which refers to tax concessions, could be open to a similar criticism. It is a question of how far one can push the boat out before one goes across the line. We have trawled the legislation and we are certain we are at the line. I do not believe anyone, particularly the 360,000 people with disabilities, want us to pass another Bill that may be unconstitutional. We are at the line on this legislation and we can go no further. The message must go out clearly to employers that an employee with a disability can bring them before the Director of Equality Investigations if they have not taken into consideration the various supports available. The Bill only protects employers in terms of a cost on them, it does not cover the cost of adaptation.

I wish to pursue one aspect of this matter. I am concerned that if an employee brings a case against an employer to the Director of Equality Investigations, the employer will be able to say that he or she is not obliged under the legislation to apply for a grant and, therefore, has decided not to apply for one. He or she could use the legalisation to say there is no definite obligation on them to apply for whatever grants are available. In that situation an employer might win the case against the person taking it. I accept the point made by the Minister that this is not positive action legislation but rather sets out to protect against discrimination. However, the legislation deals with employment and an employer could take the interpretation that there is no absolute obligation on him or her to apply for available grants to make the workplace adaptable for a person with a disability. I am not satisfied that the loophole is fully catered for in the existing provisions of the Bill.

It is important this matter is thrashed out in a clear manner. The legislation is an anti-discrimination measure. The primary obligation it places on employers is not to discriminate against a person on the grounds of disability or one of the other eight grounds under section 6 of the Bill. It is important that persons seeking redress under the Bill, on the grounds of disability or one of the other grounds, must show they have been afforded treatment less favourable than that which is, has or would be afforded another person on one of the discriminatory grounds. In considering a case of discrimination on the grounds of disability, the Bill establishes the right of a person with a disability to be placed on a level playing field with the comparator by being given special treatment and facilities. Once account has been taken of this obligation it is a matter for the employer to select, on the grounds of merit and suitability, between the number of competent and capable candidates available to her. I hope this clarifies the anti-discrimination provisions in the context of employment.

If the Bill stands as it is, and the amendment is not accepted, what pressure is there on employers to use whatever grants, facilities, tax incentives, etc., are available? Is there any statutory pressure? Is the Minister satisfied that such grants, etc., will be availed of?

The obligation on the employer is to do all that is reasonable, something provided for in the legislation. The advice of the Attorney General, which the Government must accept, is that we can go no further than this.

We are particularly concerned that there is not a loophole for an employer in the context of not applying for whatever grants, incentives and facilities are available. I accept the Minister's understanding that the matter is covered under the legislation, but I will press the amendment.

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 58; Níl, 65.

  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Bell, Michael.
  • Boylan, Andrew.
  • Broughan, Thomas.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Bruton, John.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Liam.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Carey, Donal.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Cosgrave, Michael.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Currie, Austin.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Dukes, Alan.
  • Enright, Thomas.
  • Farrelly, John.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • Finucane, Michael.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Gilmore, Éamon.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Higgins, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McGahon, Brendan.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, William.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Upton, Pat.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Yates, Ivan.

Níl

  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Blaney, Harry.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Brennan, Matt.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Foley, Denis.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McGennis, Marian.
  • Moffatt, Thomas.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Liz.
  • O'Flynn, Noel.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Batt.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Malley, Desmond.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wade, Eddie.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wright, G.V.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Barrett and Stagg; Níl, Deputies S. Brennan and Power.
Amendment declared lost.

Amendment No. 7 is an alternative to amendment No. 6. Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 will be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 24, between lines 32 and 33, to insert the following:

"(2) It is immaterial for the purposes of this section whether A and B are of the same gender.".

This amendment seeks to ensure that where sexual harassment takes place, it is immaterial whether the people concerned are of the same or different genders. It seeks to ensure that nobody is unprotected with regard to sexual harassment. If sexual harassment is perpetrated by a person of the same sex, the person should not be excluded from the remit of the Bill. It is a fact that sexual harassment can be carried out by a person on a person of the same gender and such harassment should be covered by the legislation.

This amendment should be accepted. There is evidence that the sexual harassment described by Deputy O'Sullivan is a reality and it is important that the legislation covers same sex sexual harassment. Can the Minister of State clarify if this issue is already covered in other sections of the Bill under one of the other grounds? The amendment is an attempt to make it explicit that the Bill covers this issue.

Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 seek to extend the definition of sexual harassment to same sex sexual harassment. As I said on Committee Stage, there are aspects of harassment and bullying which do not come within the scope of the nine grounds in the Bill. I am determined to focus on outlawing discrimination on the nine grounds rather than broadening the scope of the Bill to new issues, however worthy they might be.

Part III of the Bill transposes into Irish law the European equal pay and equal treatment directives. The foundation of these directives is the notion of a comparator of the opposite sex. I had the issue examined following the Committee Stage debate and there is no reason to deviate from the policy in this regard. I do not propose to accept the amendments.

Same sex sexual harassment is seldom simply a matter of discrimination on the ground of sex. It is often based on, for example, age, sexual orientation or on family or marital status. Harassment on these grounds are covered in section 32.

We have probably pushed this matter as far as we can so I will not press the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 7 not moved.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 27, to delete lines 8 to 13.

This amendment refers to the height requirement for recruits to the Garda Síochána. On Committee Stage we debated whether it was appropriate to have such a requirement and I do not intend to repeat those arguments. The Minister of State indicated that the issue might be addressed in other legislation. Can she indicate if there is a willingness on the part of the Government or her Department to reconsider this issue in other legislation?

The imposition of height requirements in respect of recruitment to the Garda Síochána and the Prison Service arises from the particular nature of those employments. Without the exclusion, the application of a single height requirement could be indirectly discriminatory because it would impact disproportionately on one sex, women. The Bill seeks to avoid this situation by allowing the application of height requirements but in such a manner that approximately the same proportion of men and women are likely to meet the criterion for the respective sexes. This is the only aspect of this issue that we can and are addressing in the Bill.

One of the primary roles of the Garda Síochána is the prevention of crime. To fulfil such a role there is a requirement for a physical presence of uniformed gardaí on patrol. From a psychological, as well as a practical perspective, there are distinct benefits in recruiting a force that is taller on average than the population generally. Similarly, the primary role of the prison officer is to maintain control of prisoners and to fulfil such a role a physical presence is essential.

I am aware of the Deputy's concern but this matter should, if it must, be raised on another day. This Bill deals with the anti-discimination aspect of the height requirement in the context I have outlined.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 are related and can be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 33, to delete lines 36 to 40.

These are important amendments. The Bill purports to make discrimination on the ground of age illegal. The subsections of section 34 open enormous loopholes which will mean that, in practice, discrimination on the age ground in employment will still be permitted and will remain commonplace. There are two escape clauses from the provisions regarding discrimination on the ground of age.

Amendment No. 9 relates to subsection (3) under which an employer, if he shows there is clear actuarial or other evidence that significantly increased costs would result if the discrimination were not permitted, is allowed to discriminate on the age ground. Actuarial costs means that if an employer says it will cost more to include someone older in a pension scheme, they are allowed discriminate against that person. If someone aged 45 or 50 years applies for a job, it will cost more to include them than someone who is 25 or 30 years old. Similarly there are circumstances where other costs, for example, relating to pay or pay expectations, can be used to discriminate.

Section 34 (5), to which amendment No. 10 relates, allows an employer to state a maximum age for recruitment to a job where the cost of, or the period of time involved in, training is taken into account or where it is considered that the employee has to be in employment for what is called a reasonable period of time prior to retirement age, which is not defined. If someone aged 50 years applies for a job and the employer says it will take a while to train them or it will cost some money, that person can be discriminated against.

The old type of employment regime where somebody went into a job in their early or mid twenties, stayed in it for 40 years, retired at 65 years — very often from the same job and employer — no longer exists. We live in a world where we are constantly told that change is the norm in economic life and where people throughout their working life must be prepared to change not only their employer but perhaps their job and career several times. We are also living in an age where the hours of and arrangements for work are becoming more atypical.

People in older age brackets are discriminated against in this world of work. The new industries which are part and parcel of the Celtic tiger are fine for those in their twenties and thirties who have recently completed their education. They want to recruit young, newly qualified graduates. However, many of these industries regard those aged 50 years and over as past it. For example, those made redundant at 45, 50 or 55 years are moving out of employment and find it increasingly hard to get back into it because employers are discriminating against them. This Bill will rightly make it illegal for an employer to say that no women or travellers need apply. However, it does not make it illegal for an employer to effectively say that no middle aged person or anyone over 50 or 55 need apply.

There is serious discrimination in this area at the moment. Increasing numbers of people in our community are not being allowed to participate in the workforce. Employers in the new type of economy regard older people as past it. We need to make a stand on this. We are enacting legislation which purports to make discrimination illegal in the workplace. It should also be clear that it makes discrimination on grounds of age illegal.

This legislation should not provide loopholes where an employer can say it will cost too much to include someone in a pension scheme or that it will cost too much or take too long to train or retrain someone for a job. That is a recipe for discrimination against older and middle aged people in the workplace. It needs to be addressed and the loopholes in this Bill need to be removed so that all employers are clear that it will be as illegal to discriminate on grounds of age as it is to discriminate on grounds of gender or on any other grounds.

I support Deputy Gilmore. A great number of people aged 50 years or more have difficulty in gaining employment. Many men who left school at 15, 16 or 17 years old a number of years ago have been made redundant because the nature of the workplace and the skills required have changed so much. They have a great deal to contribute to the economy and want to be employed. It is important that employment equality legislation ensures that people like that have access to the workplace and are not discriminated against.

I also support Deputy Gilmore. He highlighted the fact that ageism is real in our society. It needs to be tackled and we need strong legislation to do so. It is particularly relevant in a changing marketplace where people move between different jobs over a lifetime. It is important that they are protected. There is a skills shortage in some sectors which is creating opportunities for people who perhaps traditionally would have retired. This amendment seeks to give ongoing protection to older people. Age should not be a barrier to getting protection from our employment legislation.

Amendment No. 9 seeks to delete section 34(3). This subsection excludes from the discriminatory provision of the Bill discrimination on the age and disability ground where it is justified on the basis of costs. In order to avail of this exclusion, an employer must show there is a clear actuarial or other similarly based evidence to indicate he or she would incur significant increased costs in such circumstances.

While the Bill does not deal with pensions where actuarial factors are particularly relevant, it covers death in service or permanent health measures where actuarial evidence arises, especially in the context of age and health characteristics. In the event that a person feels that he or she has been discriminated against in such circumstances, that person can bring a case to the Director of Equality Investigations.

The employer will be obliged to produce appropriate evidence to justify any discriminatory action on his or her part. This evidence which may ultimately be examined in the context of an equality case under the Bill must be such as to satisfy the statutory independent director that the discrimination in question is justifiable in accordance with this subsection.

As regards amendment No. 10, in legislation for employment equality on any ground a balance must be maintained between the interests of employees and the viability of enterprise. In the case of applying age anti-discrimination legislation in the labour market, it is essential to have regard to existing labour market practices which facilitate a natural throughput of workers from school leaving age to retirement.

This Bill prohibits discrimination against employees or prospective employees in the age range of 18 to 65 years. Section 34(5) allows an employer to set a maximum recruitment age in certain circumstances. In setting maximum recruitment ages, an employer must, in accordance with the subsection, take account of the time and cost of training an employee and the need to ensure a reasonable period of effective service prior to retirement age. These exclusions are dictated by the need to ensure this legislation does not upset economically sensitive recruitment decisions with consequential implications for the operation of the labour market to which I alluded earlier. Any maximum recruitment age set by an employer can, in the context of an equality case under the Bill, be examined by the Director of Equality Investigations to ensure the age limit set meets the criteria established in the Bill.

I suspect in years to come when the question of totally eliminating age discrimination in employment becomes the legal norm, just as the total elimination of discrimination on grounds of gender is now the accepted norm, parliamentary historians will look back on the Minister's contribution and regard it as archaic as some of the statements made here 40 or 50 years ago on gender discrimination. It is unfortunate that in the society in which we live there is social acceptance of discrimination against older people, and that is reflected in the Bill. The Minister said that subsection (3) provides for circumstances such as death in service. Of course it will cost more for death in service if people of 50 rather than 25 are employed. Any actuary will confirm that. Subsection (3) de facto allows discrimination.

On the argument about the maximum age requirement, many people hoped the Employment Equality Bill, which supposedly ends age discrimination, would put an end to the advertisements we often see in newspapers that set down a maximum age limit for applicants, but unfortunately that is not the case. Under the Bill an employer will still be allowed put an advertisement in the newspaper stating that applicants must be under a certain age, and he may justify that on grounds that it will take too much time or cost too much to train older people. That is unacceptable.

At a time when discrimination on a whole range of grounds is declared to be illegal, this House should decide that discrimination on grounds of age is illegal and allow no let-out clause or what the Minister described as economically sensitive employment decisions to stand in the way of ending a practice that is patently unfair to people who are older than other applicants or people in the employment who are treated more favourably.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 65; Níl, 58.

  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Blaney, Harry.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Brennan, Matt.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Foley, Denis.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McGennis, Marian.
  • Moffatt, Thomas.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Liz.
  • O'Flynn, Noel.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Batt.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Malley, Desmond.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wade, Eddie.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wright, G.V.

Níl

  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Bell, Michael.
  • Boylan, Andrew.
  • Broughan, Thomas.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Bruton, John.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Liam.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Carey, Donal.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Cosgrave, Michael.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Currie, Austin.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Dukes, Alan.
  • Enright, Thomas.
  • Farrelly, John.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • Finucane, Michael.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Gilmore, Éamon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Higgins, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McGahon, Brendan.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, William.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Upton, Pat.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Yates, Ivan.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies S. Brennan and Power; Níl, Deputies Gilmore and Barrett.
Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.
Amendment No. 10 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 11 and 13 are cognate and No. 12 is related. Therefore, we will take Nos. 11, 12 and 13 together, by agreement.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 34, lines 21 and 22, to delete "a particular" and substitute "the same or an increased".

This section is extremely important and relates to workers on the grounds of disability. We are seeking to qualify section 35(1) which states that:

Nothing in this Part or Part II shall make it unlawful for an employer to provide, for an employee with a disability, a particular rate of remuneration for work of a particular description if, by reason of that disability, the employee is restricted in his or her capacity to do the same amount of work (or to work the same hours) as a person who is employed to do work of that description but who is without that disability.

The real concern with regard to this subsection is that an employer could employ a person with a disability for a lesser wage than a person who did not have the disability. I thank the Minister of State for the consultation we had and for the level of interest she has shown in trying to accommodate our concerns with regard to this issue, but a balance must be struck. I accept the point the Minister of State made on Committee Stage; that we do not want to deter employers from employing a person with a disability in any manner of employment. At the same time, however, we want to be absolutely certain there is no possibility of an employer being able to use section 35(1) in order to discriminate against a person with a disability in terms of pay. That is why we are seeking to qualify this subsection.

The onus to make the decision — as to whether the person being employed is actually doing work of equal value to other employees — should neither be on the employer nor the employee. My preferred option is amendment No. 12 which would provide that the rate of remuneration would have to be sanctioned and approved by the Equality Authority.

The amendment seeks to ensure that there will be a referee between the employer and the employee. That referee would be an officer of the Equality Authority who would decide whether the disabled person was doing equal work. If the subsection is not so amended the legislation will be wide open to abuse by employers who could allege that a person with a disability is not doing an equal amount of work compared to other workers doing the same kind of work. Unless we amend this subsection that could happen on a widespread basis.

It would be extremely difficult for someone with a disability to argue against an employer or a prospective employer in this regard. They need to be sure they are protected by the Equality Authority in terms of the work they are doing and the remuneration they receive. It is extremely important that we should amend this section of the legislation, otherwise it could be used by employers to discriminate in terms of pay against a person with a disability.

The big problem for many disabled people is gaining access to employment. Obviously, we want to make it as easy as possible for them and we do not want to place unnecessary barriers in their way. The Minister of State is concerned that it would be a barrier if any regulations are made concerning this section or if an employer had to refer to a particular authority, such as the Equality Authority or another body. In the long-term that would prove to be a protection for the disabled and it is important for it to be included in the legislation. It is worrying to build into the legislation a provision which would allow for a different rate of remuneration for those who are disabled. It is dangerous to do so in this area. There is a danger that it could be used as a licence to exploit and underpay employees with a disability.

The Minister of State said this issue has not been brought to her attention to any great extent since she assumed responsibility for this area and that the issue of access to employment was a greater problem. However, I am sure the Minister of State agrees there is concern — to which she referred — that people move into training centres, end up staying there for long periods and never move beyond them. I am afraid that building this provision into the legislation means people would become almost ghettoised in particular job training areas. They would have neither the ability to take a case nor to move out of those areas. In fact, as the skills shortage becomes more of an issue, the potential for exploitation will increase even more.

I am very nervous of putting this into legislation. The Minister of State seems to believe it will create opportunities for people in employment sectors which are currently not available to them. She should build in a simple mechanism so that if employers want to give a different rate of remuneration they can obtain permission to do so. It does not have to be bureaucratic and cumbersome or involve much paperwork. The intention of the amendment is to ensure that where a different rate of pay is being used by an employer for someone who is disabled it will only be done in particular circumstances that are fully justified. I accept there are circumstances where it may be appropriate to pay a different wage in the interests of creating job opportunities.

Deputy Gilmore originally proposed amending this section so that an employer would have to refer the matter to the director of the Equality Authority to get permission to pay different rates to a disabled person. It could be even simpler, involving whoever is administering various schemes, such as the employment support scheme, but it does not even have to be at that level. If such a mechanism was built in, however, one would not run the sort of risks I have outlined.

I support what Deputies O'Sullivan and Fitzgerald said about this amendment. Basically, the problem is that section 35 will allow employers to pay a lower rate of pay to somebody with a disability. All they have to demonstrate is that, by the nature of the disability, the employee is restricted in his or her capacity to do the same amount of work or to work the same amount of hours. This is a licence for a discriminatory and exploitative low pay regime for people with disabilities.

The problem that arises is that the employee does not really have any redress in a situation where this would occur. The employee does not have access to the director of the Equality Authority where the legislation explicitly states that, by virtue of the disability, the amount of work that can be done or the hours of work that can be worked have to be less. In those circumstances the employee cannot appeal to the Equality Authority.

I proposed that where an employer proposed to pay a lower rate of pay to somebody with a disability, and to justify that on grounds of the amount of work or hours of work being less, there should be a requirement on the employer to seek the approval of the Equality Authority in advance. On Committee Stage, the Minister of State expressed concern that that would be very bureaucratic and would impose an undue requirement on employers which would mean they would be less likely to employ somebody with a disability. Administratively, the way in which this is done could be arranged so that it reduces the amount of bureaucracy. If an employer decides to employ somebody anyway, a certain amount of paperwork is involved with the tax office, social welfare and so on. This requirement could be streamlined to tie in with that so it would be a simple, straightforward procedure which would not necessarily involve much investigation and which would reduce the bureaucracy.

It is undesirable if it is open season and if all an employer must do is to show a disability on the part of the employee to justify a lower rate of pay. It must be qualified by a provision. I had hoped the Minister might introduce an amendment to address this but in the absence of one, she should accept that before the House.

Amendments Nos. 11 and 13, which propose to delete "a particular" and substitute "the same or an increased" in subsections (1) and (3) seem to specifically provide that an employee with a disability may be paid more than an employee without a disability or with a different disability, although both are doing the same work. This, in itself, would be a form of discrimination and would be an inappropriate provision in this anti-discrimination Bill.

The broader and more encompassing issue about which Members are concerned is the amendment which proposes to add the words "provided that the need for such particular rate is sanctioned by the Equality Authority and the rate of remuneration approved by the Authority." It is a matter of defining whether this proposal will help those I am trying to help or whether it will add an extra layer and cause an additional concern to the employer when he or she decides to take on a person with a disability. That is the issue I must address and, as Deputy Fitzgerald said, I brought this to the attention of Members previously.

I have been in this job for almost a year and all the correspondence I have received and the concerns expressed to me on the issue of employing people with disabilities, especially those with a learning disability, has centred on access to employment. Deputies have taken that point on board. I thank Deputy O'Sullivan for meeting me to discuss this Bill because I wanted to do everything possible and to move as far as possible.

If a member of one's family has a learning disability or Down's Syndrome and wants to take up a job in the local Burgerland — I do not know if we are allowed to refer to the McDonalds and Burger Kings of this world — the company may employ them at a lower rate because they are not doing equal work and are, therefore, not entitled to equal pay under the Bill. I do not want to cut off the few employment opportunities for these many people.

As Deputy Fitzgerald pointed out — and I raised this point with Members — there are people with disabilities in lifetime training in training institutions. We must move from long-term and lifetime training and get as many job opportunities for these people as possible, whether it is for ten hours per week or one hour per day. We must provide as many incentives and encouragements as possible so that can happen and not place further blocks along the route to prevent it.

This is the only factor which influenced me when I considered whether these employers should have to get a sanction from somebody, who, in the case of the amendment, is the Equality Authority. I am concerned it would add another layer of bureaucracy to the possible job opportunities for the many individuals I represent who want a job and not to keep training for life. These people go to training institutions for one, two or three years training but are there ten years later.

Since Committee Stage I had the opportunity to visit CoAction in Cork. It is an excellent group which is involved in training people with disabilities for jobs. I met the job coach and job finder whose daily job is going to supermarkets and other places trying to find jobs suitable for persons in the training institutions so that they will not be in training all their lives. When addressing the amendment we should ask if we should put another block in that person's way as she visits different employers trying to convince them that they will be supported by CoAction when they take on a person with a disability — a learning disability in most cases — whether it is to wheel in trolleys from a carpark or packing groceries. Her job is to convince people that it is a good idea to employ a person with a disability and that they will be supported by her as a job coach and job finder and I cannot put another obstacle in her way. This amendment would mean she would have to tell the supermarket owner that they must get the approval of the Equality Authority. She hopes we will do more to help her. If I accepted the amendment, it would place another block on the route.

It is important we understand who is covered by the Bill and this section in particular. Section 35(1) is intended to facilitate the employment of persons whose capacity to do the same amount of work as other employees is restricted. It must be accepted that in some cases there will be persons with a disability who, even with a reasonable accommodation, will not be in a position to satisfy the principle of equal pay for equal work. This provision is intended to ensure the enactment of the Bill will not act as a disincentive to employment in such cases.

I am aware of the special difficulties as I have met all the relevant people in the disability area. We thrashed this issue out and held many meetings on it. I know of the concerns about the wording but I am also aware that some people with disabilities — perhaps the majority with learning disabilities — avail of employment opportunities which are an extremely important aspect of their lives. Although they may not be able to work with the same level of capacity as others, I am reluctant to take any steps which might act as a disincentive to an employer to provide such opportunities and thus reduce the frequency of cases where an employer makes a genuine effort to increase the participation of persons with a disability in employment, particularly such persons whose capacity to perform is seriously restricted because of an employer's fears of equality claims. That is our concern.

If people are concerned that this subsection is being applied to them and that it should not be applied as they are not one of the categories provided for in this section, that they are doing equal work and entitled to equal pay, they are entitled to bring their case to the Director of Equality Investigations and to the Labour Court. It is not intended for the general person with a disability who is covered by the anti-discrimination Bill — the person who is in a position to do equal work but who perhaps requires a reasonable accommodation or whatever. This section is focused on a different category of person whom I want to support and help. I want to create incentives, perhaps later in a positive action measure. In an anti-discrimination measure I do not want to put in any blocks. Given the small number of job quotas and job finders, this is an area we need to address. Since job finders are in place throughout the country I do not wish to impose further layers of bureaucracy on them. I have examined this matter in detail but I do not think this amendment would help. My problem in this area is that I want to create opportunities for employment and access to employment for those covered under this section. Members here are concerned about another category who might be caught in this net in error. If so I stress they should appeal their case to the Director of Equality Investigations who can adjudicate on it.

I fully understand the Minister is focusing on a particular group and that her intentions are positive. The problem the Opposition has is that in assisting this group, the section facilitates possible discrimination against the group which is doing equal work and is entitled to equal pay. For that reason we seek to amend the subsection to bring the outside referee into the situation to ensure the onus will not be on the person with the disability to prove he or she is capable of doing equal work. This is an important distinction. There is a real danger of facilitating discrimination within the legislation. While I accept the Minister's intention in this regard, I am concerned that unless it is qualified in the way suggested, particularly in amendment No. 12, there is a real possibility that the legislation will facilitate discrimination against people with disabilities, thus enabling employers to use this clause to pay less to a person with a disability than to the rest of his employees. For those reasons I would not be happy to withdraw amendment No. 12 which is in the names of Deputies Fitzgerald, Gilmore, mine and others.

Is the amendment being pressed?

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 34, line 26, after "disability" to insert "provided that the need for such particular rate is sanctioned by the Equality Authority and the rate of remuneration approved by the Authority".

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 56; Níl, 66.

  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Bell, Michael.
  • Belton, Louis.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Broughan, Thomas.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Cosgrave, Michael.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Currie, Austin.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Dukes, Alan.
  • Enright, Thomas.
  • Farrelly, John.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • Finucane, Michael.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Gilmore, Éamon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Higgins, Michael.
  • Hogan, Philip.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • Bruton, John.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Liam.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Carey, Donal.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, William.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Upton, Pat.

Níl

  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Blaney, Harry.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Brennan, Matt.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Foley, Denis.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McGennis, Marian.
  • Moffatt, Thomas.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Liz.
  • O'Flynn, Noel.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Batt.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Malley, Desmond.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wade, Eddie.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wright, G.V.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Stagg and Barrett; Níl, Deputies S. Brennan and Power.
Amendment declared lost.

I am now required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day:

That the amendments set down by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill; Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed.

Question put and agreed to.

The Bill, which is considered by virtue of Article 20.2.2º of the Constitution as a Bill initiated in Dáil Éireann, will now be sent to the Seanad.

I thank all Deputies who contributed to the passage of the Bill. A great deal of consultation took place with outside organisations and I thank the representatives of people with disabilities and individuals with disabilities who helped us. I also thank the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. I hope that, with the passing of the Bill, we have a strong anti-discrimination measure and I am pleased to see it reaching this stage.

I thank the Minister of State for the consultation during the debate on the Bill. We all found it helpful and the Bill has emerged greatly strengthened by its passage through the Seanad and Dáil. The disability provisions inserted by the Minister of State are strong and welcome.

We on this side of the House have shown our concerns about a number of areas both today and on Committee Stage. I hope they will be taken on board and that, when the review takes place in two years' time, they will form part of that review. They are important areas. The risks attached to some of the provisions which were highlighted cannot be underestimated and they should be included in the review.

I pay tribute to the staff in the Minister of State's Department. This Bill has taken a tortuous route through the Supreme Court and it is to be hoped it will not be referred to it again. I pay tribute to the hard work of the departmental staff who have laboured over the Bill for many years.

I thank the Minister of State for her co-operation in the debate. We had the opportunity to voice our concerns and tease out the issues involved. I welcome the review in two years' time because there is great detail in the Bill and it will be important to revisit some of the issues discussed.

I thank the staff in the Minister of State's Department. I know they stayed up late on some occasions working on the Bill. A great deal of work has been done on it and it has taken a long time to reach this stage. Those with an interest in the area were disappointed when the original Bill was found not to be in accordance with the Constitution and that a second one had to be introduced. I am pleased the Bill is ready to return to the Seanad. I hope it will provide recourse for people as regards employment equality in this jurisdiction.

I join with Deputies Fitzgerald and O'Sullivan in expressing appreciation to the Minister of State for her open approach to the presentation of the Bill and to the consultations she held with Members about a number of aspects of it. I also appreciate the constraints under which she was operating given the Supreme Court decision.

The two year review will be important. On Committee Stage, and again today, we attempted to extend some provisions of the Bill and to extend our understanding of discrimination in employment and the need to end it. I hope that will be taken into account in the two year review and that the improvements we had been seeking today and on Committee Stage may be possible. I also hope the disabilities Bill, which the Minister of State has undertaken to introduce, will address the issue of discrimination against people with disabilities and other areas we discussed during the course of the debate.

I wish to record my appreciation for the work the Minister of State's Department and her officials put into the preparation of the Bill and for their assistance to us during the course of the consultations which took place.

The two year review referred to by Members is important and it is why it has been built into the Bill. It is also important to note that £2.1 million has been provided in the Estimates for the establishment of the Equality Authority in 1998. What is positive about the Bill reaching this stage is that the important work of putting in place the infrastructure can proceed.

I thank Members for their positive comments about departmental staff who worked on this Bill for four years up to it being declared unconstitutional one year ago. They worked on the Bill until 7 a.m. one morning during Committee Stage. Great credit is due to the staff of the equality division for their wonderful patience. I thank Members for their positive comments.