Neighbour Hood Support

Age discrimination

The Human Rights Act 1993 aims to promote and protect human rights in New Zealand in general accordance with a number of United Nations Covenants or Conventions on Human Rights that the New Zealand Government has signed.

The Human Rights Act makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of age. This includes discriminating in employment, refusing access to or use of a public place, refusing to supply goods, services or facilities, or refusing a person accommodation or placing a low priority on a person’s application for accommodation, because of their age.

There are some exceptions where it is not unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of age. These include:

  • where age is a genuine occupational qualification, for example, for safety
  • you can be retired at a particular age if your employment contract is in writing and was in force on 1 April 1992, a retirement age is specified and you have agreed to confirm or vary the retirement age in writing subsequently
  • with insurance, if different treatment is based on reliable information relating to life-expectancy, accidents or sickness (superannuation schemes also have some exceptions)
    for organisation of sporting events for certain age groups
  • for provision of group travel based on age
  • in the membership of clubs
  • in the provision of institutional accommodation, for example, a retirement village.

Note: It is not unlawful to provide goods, services or facilities at a reduced rate to people of a particular age.

The Human Rights Amendment Act 2001 made significant changes to the principal Act, including the way complaints of unlawful discrimination are received and resolved. The Human Rights Commission will provide information to members of the public who have questions about discrimination. They endeavour to resolve disputes informally but can take matters further where the right to freedom from discrimination is breached.

Check the Human Rights Commission for more information on the Human Rights Act and Unlawful Discrimination.

This link is to United Nations information on Human Rights.

New Zealand legislation can be located at this address under Statutes.

 Download this fact sheet as a PDF (174 kB)

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