EFA calls on Government to set up equality advice body

The head of the UK age equality body has criticised the Government for not
developing a suitable employers’ advice system in advance of legislation
outlawing ageism.

Sam Mercer, director of the Employer Forum on Age (EFA), told employers’ Law
the consultation process for the draft proposals on age discrimination were unco-ordinated
and had left firms in the dark about the new rules.

She said the Government’s failure to establish a single equality body to
advise employers on the age laws, which are being introduced in 2006, would
leave employers confused.

"Employers don’t have anywhere to go for advice before the rules are
introduced. There should be a single equality body where firms can get advice
as soon as next year, but that’s not going to happen now," she said.

The latest research shows that employers are still unclear about the
Government’s proposals, with line managers struggling to come to terms with the
plans.

A poll of 1,200 employers found that about a third were not even aware that
the Government was introducing age legislation in 2006.

The Recruitment Conference Index, produced by Cranfield, the Daily Telegraph
and Personnel Today found only 57 per cent had plans to introduce a policy on
age.

In a separate poll by the Chartered Management Institute, the majority of
respondents supported the aims of the legislation, but more than half did not
understand how it would apply in the workplace.

More worryingly, up to 75 per cent of the 1,000 managers surveyed admitted
to witnessing age discrimination in the workplace.

"It’s extremely worrying because the levels of awareness are still low.
If companies don’t get their act together they will find themselves in trouble.

"I don’t think employers realise how big an impact these rules will
have, but most don’t have anywhere to go for advice," Mercer said.

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