European code aims to curb work ageism

A
newly released European code of practice could prevent employers falling foul
of the law after the EU ban on workplace age discrimination comes into effect
in 2006.

Lobby
groups the Employers’ Forum on Age and Eurolink Age believe that companies
which fail to adopt the code could face legal challenges under the European
directive adopted last October.

To
avert the backlash, major employers across Europe are backing the code of
practice published today.

The
code, called Ageing in Employment: A European Code of Good Practice, draws on
experience from major employers including the Nationwide Building Society,
Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer.

Denise
Walker, head of corporate personnel at Nationwide Building Society, who
contributed to the code, said, “The release of this code is very timely and
will allow employers to be up to speed by the time the legislation comes into
effect in 2006 – it is not something that can be brought in overnight.

“Companies
not adopting this could face skills shortages because they won’t have access to
a wider pool of staff.”

Nationwide
invites job applicants to telephone them anonymously and then shortlists
candidates for traditional interviews. It doesn’t use CVs.

The
telephone interview assesses what skills the applicant has without referring to
their past experience. Only when candidates are invited back for face-to-face
interviews do line managers get to see what experience they have.

A
team of labour market experts in Germany, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands,
Spain, Sweden and the UK, consulted with more than 150 employers to design the
code.

It
focuses on learning, training and development, flexible working practices,
modernising work, workplace design and health promotion, recruitment,
retention, promotion and internal job changes, retirement and changing
attitudes within the workplace.

Only
36 per cent of EU’s population between the ages of 55 and 64 are still in work.

By
Richard Staines

www.eurolinkage.org/euro

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