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Exceptions to the rules

It is not always fair to treat people equally. Sometimes it is reasonable for employers to discriminate in favour of one group over others.

For example, in certain circumstances it makes sense to hire a person of a particular sex or race, and some people may need to be given special opportunities to overcome past disadvantages.

South Australian equal opportunity law allows for some exceptions to the usual rules.

Special Measures

There are a number of special measures built into the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA) that allow discrimination in specific areas and activities.


As Indigenous people have been denied certain employment opportunities, a government agency set up a job creation program which was open only to Indigenous people. The scheme assisted them to develop the knowledge, skills and experience to compete for jobs on merit.

Junior wages

It is not unlawful to advertise jobs with junior pay rates set out in an award.


A supermarket chose to employ a young person on a junior wage rather than someone on adult wages. However, this did not allow the supermarket to dismiss or retrench the young person when they had a birthday or turned 21.


If your situation is not covered by an existing exemption and you have a good reason to discriminate when employing someone, you can apply to the South Australian Employment Tribunal for a temporary exemption.

For more information on exemptions use the links below or contact us for advice.

Related information

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