Regulations fail to stop Ageism

Age Discrimination

Employers are still discriminating against older workers, despite the introduction of age discrimination legislation two years ago, according to The Age and Employment Network (TAEN).

Age Discrimination

A TAEN survey of 370 jobseekers aged over 50 found that 63% believed they were seen as too old by employers and 42% said they were seen as too experienced or over–qualified.

The research also highlighted that just 13% thought the introduction of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (2006), which banned age discrimination in the workplace, had helped older people find employment. TAEN chief executive Chris Ball said:

“Ageism in the workplace is still widespread, particularly in recruitment where it is difficult for an individual to prove discrimination and take legal action,”

Under age–discrimination regulation, it is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of age in terms of recruitment, promotion or training. Employers who breach the rules risk being taken to an employment tribunal, where they face unlimited fines if they lose.

According to employment advisory service Acas’ head of equality, Steve Williams, if small firms are unsure of their obligations under the legislation, they should seek advice to ensure their policies and practices are compliant.

“Most employers want to do the right thing but they may not be aware that advertising in a certain way, for instance, or asking for a certain number of years’ experience when recruiting could be against age regulations,”

“When recruiting, the key is to focus on the job and its requirements. Decide the skills that you are looking for and assess candidates on merit.”

Williams added small firms should also realise they can benefit from employing older workers.

“Many employees over a certain age don’t necessarily want to work full time, or are happy to work flexibly which can suit smaller enterprises who don’t necessarily want to commit to full–time staff in certain job roles,”

“The legislation also allows employees to request working past 65,” he added. “When you think of the costs of recruiting and training somebody, allowing a perfectly skilled and loyal person to stay on can be a sensible and extremely cost–effective decision for a small business.”

For more information about preventing age discrimination in the workplace, visit the Government’s Age Positive website.

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