Know your rights: Discrimination in employment recruitment

Question

I recently applied, unsuccessfully, for a job. I was asked in the interview how many children I had and how I would manage childcare if offered the job. I feel that way I was treated during the recruitment process was discriminatory. What redress do I have?

Answer

Ireland has legislation prohibiting discrimination in a wide range of employment areas including recruitment.  Discrimination is defined as ‘less favourable treatment’. A person can be discriminated against if he/she is treated less favourably than another person is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation on any of nine grounds, as follows:

  • Gender: this means man, woman or transsexual
  • Civil status: includes single, married, separated, divorced, widowed people, civil partners and former civil partners
  • Family status: this refers to the parent of a person under 18 years or the resident primary carer or parent of a person with a disability
  • Sexual orientation: includes gay, lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual
  • Religion: means religious belief, background, outlook or none
  • Age: this does not apply to a person aged under 16
  • Disability: includes people with physical, intellectual, learning, cognitive or emotional disabilities and a range of medical conditions
  • Race: includes race, skin colour, nationality or ethnic origin
  • Membership of the Traveller community

If you think that you have been discriminated against during recruitment on one of these grounds you can bring your case to the Equality Tribunal under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2011. You should use the online complaint form (available by selecting ‘Make a complaint in relation to employment rights’ on workplacerelations.ie). You must lodge your complaint within 6 months of the alleged act of discrimination.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission can provide information on employment equality legislation. It can also, at its discretion, provide legal assistance to people who wish to bring claims to the Equality Tribunal.

Know Your Rights columns cover topical subjects every month in a question-and-answer format. They are published by the Citizens Information Board online and syndicated through Citizens Information Services to local newspapers around Ireland.

Further information is available from Citizens Information Centres and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, call 0761 07 4000.

Have you seen someone sleeping rough in Dublin?

You can help a person who is sleeping rough, by letting the Dublin Region Homeless Executive know where they are located. They will pass on the information to the Housing First Service who will attempt to make contact with the individual.

If you meet a person who is sleeping rough and they require medical attention, or if you think the person is aged 18 years or younger, please contact the emergency services immediately at 112 or 999.

Find out more from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive at homelessdublin.ie.


Know your rights: Taxation of social welfare pensions

Question

I am about to retire from work. I will get a State Pension (Contributory) and a small occupational pension. Are these pensions taxed?

Answer

If you have a State pension and another source of income, you may have to pay tax on your combined income. Some social welfare payments are not taxable, but most long-term payments, including the State Pension (Contributory) are. Your State pension and occupational pension are added together and your tax liability is calculated on the total amount.

There is no mechanism for taxing your social welfare pension at source (before it is paid to you). Your other income determines how tax due is paid. There are increased tax exemption limits for people aged over 65. If you are aged 65 or over and your total income is less than €18,000 a year (if you are single) or if your joint income is less than €36,000 (if you are married or in a civil partnership) you are exempt from income tax.

In your case, you will be getting a State Pension (Contributory) and an occupational pension. Your occupational pension is taxed through the PAYE system in the same way as a wage or salary. This means that you get your tax credits or tax exemption in the normal way. Revenue collects tax on your State Pension by reducing your annual tax credits on your occupational pension. You then effectively pay tax on both the pensions, but it is collected from the occupational pension. For higher incomes, the standard rate cut-off point, the amount of income at which the higher rate of tax starts to apply, will also be reduced. The technical term for this is coding-in of credits.

If the tax exemption thresholds do not apply to you, then you are entitled to a personal tax credit, PAYE tax credit and age tax credit (which applies to people over 65). You do not pay the Universal Social Charge (USC) on the State Pension, but you may have to pay USC on your occupational pension. People aged over 65 do not pay PRSI.

Know Your Rights columns cover topical subjects every month in a question-and-answer format. They are published by the Citizens Information Board online and syndicated through Citizens Information Services to local newspapers around Ireland.

Further information is available from Citizens Information Centres and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, call 0761 07 4000.

Getting re-entry visas

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) are currently experiencing an unprecedented demand for re-entry visas. Additional staff are being deployed to clear the cases on hand and to deal with new cases on a daily basis. INIS intends to have normal processing times restored as soon as possible.

If you are intending to travel in 2015 you are asked not to join the queue at this time as it is creating additional difficulties for people who are planning to travel before Christmas. INIS has assured customers that they will be dealt with in good time before travel.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Today, 3 December, is International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

There are over 1 billion people living with some form of disability. Around the world, people with disabilities face both physical barriers and social, economic and attitudinal barriers. Access to technology can help realise the full and equal participation of people with disabilities. This year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities will look at this issue under the theme of “Sustainable Development: The promise of technology”.

Find out more from the United Nations.

Driving and drugs

A new Roadside Impairment Testing (RIT) has been introduced. This gives the Garda additional powers to test drivers whom they suspect of driving under the influence of drugs. As part of the new test drivers will be required to undergo five impairment tests:

  • Pupil Dilation Test
  • Modified Romberg Balance Test
  • Walk and Turn Test
  • One Leg Stand
  • Finger to Nose Test

Find out more from the Road Safety Authority.