‘Age audits’ would force firms to address age bias

Employers should be forced to report the age breakdown of their staff through the Equality Bill, age campaigners have insisted.

Chris Ball, chief executive of The Age and Employment Network (TAEN), told Personnel Today that age audits should become a mandatory part of annual reports, to encourage employers to think more seriously about age issues.

The Equality Bill, which is currently in the committee stage in the House of Commons, will enable the government to force employers to report their gender pay gaps from 2013 if they have not voluntarily done so already, but no such provision exists regarding the age of employees.

Ball said: “It’s a simple matter for many organisations to report, in their annual reports, what they have achieved in terms of age equality and the age breakdown of their workforces.

“This reporting should become mandatory. It wouldn’t be an onerous thing for employers to do and it would be helpful in terms of focusing them as organisations on age equality.”

Ball added that this provision should start with the FTSE 100 companies.

Speaking at the Just Ageing seminar hosted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Ball also revealed the results of a survey of 400 over-50s jobseekers. It found the number who believed employers viewed them as too old for a vacancy had risen from 63% in 2008 to 72%.

The number of over-50s reporting that they felt they had experienced age discrimination in the workplace or in seeking employment also rose by 5% to 55%.

Meanwhile despite more than two-thirds having relied on Jobcentre Plus for support in securing employment, respondents said this support was ‘unfit for purpose’.

Ball said it was essential that Jobcentre Plus advisers were given more training to help them deal with the range of different people they have to help. “It’s really clear that in terms of help to get back to work older workers are just not benefiting from the big standard service provided by Jobcentre Plus,” he said.

“There needs to be a focus on training Jobcentre Plus advisers to cope with the huge range of people they deal with.”

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