Are two things you don’t want to see made, as Bismarck famously said.
But we’re a little curious about how the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations, which will ban age discrimination from the end of this month, came to be written.
First up are the provisions of Clause 31, which mean it’s illegal to pay someone less based on their age…unless they are on the miminum wage. This protects the lower “youth rate” of the minimum wage, under which young people are officially deemed to be worth less than older people (but that’s not age discrimination, obviously).
But the law is actually a bit stranger than that. It allows employers to pay younger workers either the youth minimum wage or the same rate as other workers but not anything in between.
So, if you’re employing a 19 year old and a 22 year old to do the same job, you can decide to pay them both £6 an hour. Or you can pay the 19 year old worker £4.25 an hour and the 22 year old £6 an hour.
But it is illegal to decide that the 19 year old deserves a pay rise and give them £5 an hour. Perhaps there is a good reason for that, but it escapes us at the moment.
Even more bizarre is Schedule 1 of the regulations, which defines the Norwegian sector of the Frigg Gas Field. There is no reference to this elsewhere in the regulations, the Explanatory Notes, or in the Hansard of the Committee which passed the measure.
What on earth is going on? Has the Government given away part of the Gas Field via secondary legislation? Or is this a practical joke by civil servants that no-one’s noticed until it was on the statute book?
A pound of sausages to anyone who can explain what was going through the minds of our nation’s legislators.