Laws and sausages

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.

6 Responses to Laws and sausages

  1. media scum says:

    I suspect the issue of the Frigg Gas Field is tied up with the disputed matter of the working time directive and its impact on offshore workers. This is a bit of a cause celebre in employment law with most other EU nations (and Norway) accepting its competence in employment law, and the UK dragging its heels

  2. media scum says:

    I think the Frigg issue is probably connected with the matter of the EU Working Time Directive as it applies to offshore workers. This is a complicated bit of employment law legislation which most EU countries and Norway have accepted but over which the UK is dragging its heels

  3. media scum says:

    And no – its not Eu duplication – just finger trouble, thinking the first posting had not gone through. Can i have my pound of sausages please (preferbly Danish)

  4. Nice try, media scum, and the Danes certainly do make some nice sausages, but we’ve been informed (to think that there are people out there even geekier than me!) that apparently this relates to the Continental Shelf Act 1964 and where is and is not thus defined as Great Britain for legislative purposes.

    So, it’s certainly to do with the application of the law to offshore workers, but in this case the law isn’t the EU Working Time Directive – a subject I think best left to another day!

  5. media scum says:

    Actuallyt , iI understand that the two may conflate in that our Trade Unions have tried to argue that the application of this directive does apply if a brit is working in a part of the North Sea where the territory in which the rig is sited is under the jurisdiction of a EU member state or is a signatory to the the Directive as part of its own employment law.. However it’s probab;y best left there unless a Parliamenary Draftsman says otherwise……

  6. Well, that certainly also sounds like a bit of a tangle, but frankly the thought of having to consider a UK Statutory Instrument alongside an EU Directive, then throwing in the Continental Shelf Act is enough to make even my eyes water.

    Definitely time for bed, I think. If I can’t sleep, it sounds like there are plenty of possible cures out there.

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