MLRC welcomes the recent decision of the Equality Tribunal, that rent supplement policy must not discriminate against unmarried or separated fathers. In Mr A v Community Welfare Service, Department of Social Protection (DEC-S2013-010) the Equality Tribunal upheld Mr A’s claim that the Community Welfare Service and the Department of Social Protection had discriminated against him, contrary to the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2012, on gender, civil status and family status grounds in refusing his application for rent supplement at the family rate.
This case is important as the Tribunal made clear that the respondents’ policy that where parents don’t live together, rent supplement payment at the family rate is only given to one parent, save in exceptional circumstances, as implemented here, constituted direct and indirect discrimination.
The Tribunal awarded the maximum award of compensation (€6349) and ordered the respondent to review its policies and procedures in relation to rent supplement/housing assistance payment to ensure that they are in compliance with the Equal Status Acts with particular reference to how unmarried/separated fathers are treated.
MLRC welcomes the decision as bolstering the ability of single fathers to access appropriate housing which is suitable for their children, which allows them to maintain family life with their children. In its decision, the Tribunal noted that the right to family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights encompasses, as a fundamental part, the mutual enjoyment by a parent and child of each other’s company and that domestic (State) measures which hinder that enjoyment amount to an interference with that right. The Tribunal noted here too the High Court’s recognition in MacB v BAG (Barron J, unreported, High Court, 6 June 1984) of that it is essential that “the children know that they have a father and… that their father is able to take the place of a father in their lives.”
A summary of the decision will be available on our website shortly.
The full decision is available on the Workplace Relations website: http://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/Cases/2013/October/DEC-S2013-010.html
All information provided on this Blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or a legal contract between this Blog and any person or entity unless otherwise specified. Click here to read more.