Advisers for age discrimination

Legislation
on age discrimination has been moved a step nearer with the announcement of a
working party to discuss age issues in the workplace. But the legislation is
not expected until 2006, when the European directive designed to tackle all
workplace discrimination becomes law.

The
Age Advisory Group, which includes the CBI, the CIPD, the TUC, Employers’ Forum
on Age, Age Concern and Socpo will meet to decide the issues that should be
addressed during the lengthy consultative period. This, explained employment
minister Margaret Hodge, "Will give us the necessary time to consult with
employers, individuals and expert groups on good practice, including the
approach for retirement ages."

So
far, the Government’s voluntary code of practice on age discrimination,
introduced in 1999, does not appear to have had much effect. A recent CIPD
survey on age and the workplace found that one in eight workers had encountered
age restrictions in job advertisements in the last year and nearly a quarter of
workers feel that employers are not interested in recruiting or promoting
people over 40.

Under
the proposed legislation, such discrimination would be made illegal. But CBI
director-general Digby Jones is concerned that the new legislation will tie
employer’s hands. "Flexibility – not a ‘one size fits all’ solution – has
to be the name of the game. The Government has six years to implement the EU
directive. It is vital for employers and employees alike that they get it
right," he said.

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