‘Need–to-know’ information - Implications of age discrimination
The ageing population means that employers benefit
from the fact that older people are interested not only in full time work,
but also in part-time & contract work, thus offering greater
The law affects employers,
training & education providers, trade unions and professional
The last two must also be aware that legislation affects them not only as
employers but also from the point of view of membership.
all aspects of recruitment and
selection, training & development, promotion, pay & benefits, statutory
redundancy and retirement ages; and protects job applicants, working
people, people on training, people seeking training, crown appointed
people, and members & applicants to trade unions and professional
The law includes direct and
indirect discrimination and harassment, but there will
be exceptions if they can be justified, “and there is supporting evidence”.
EU directive states that differences in treatment may be permitted where
reasonably justified by a legitimate aim, and if the means of achieving
that aim are appropriate and necessary”
aims may include
health & safety, facilitation of employment planning, training
requirements, encouraging or rewarding loyalty, and the need for a
reasonable period of employment prior to retirement.
Access to vocational training for particular categories to promote their
vocational integration is also being considered as a justification for
case law will establish what is acceptable!
key implications for employers
company needs to review its procedures and consider the issues
relating to company retirement plans, recruitment & selection
procedures, promotion procedures, training & development processes,
remuneration schemes, and termination policies. A company needs to
implement an age audit and assess the implications of the results.
The aim is to be able to justify your position.
challenges arise from hiring of temps, flexible working, sickness entitlement,
insurance and discipline procedures
All is not doom and gloom however - a company should look for the
upside by considering whether there may be new business opportunities by
filling the age gaps that become evident from an age audit. Companies such
as B&Q, The Halifax and Domestic & General Insurance identified ‘bottom line’ benefits from employing older workers.
These benefits have come about due
to the characteristics that older
workers bring with them, such
as a mature approach enabling
them to relate well to their peers, take on greater responsibility, a high
degree of loyalty leading to reduced turnover costs, reduced training costs because many experienced
workers require little more than induction training, a
strong work ethic giving greater productivity, and increased sales by
‘mapping’ front line employees with consumers.