Government denies it will miss October deadline for age laws

The government has insisted it remains committed to introducing age discrimination legislation on 1 October, amid rumours the new laws could be delayed until December.

There had been speculation that the Department of Trade and Industry would postpone implementation by two months after the CBI and other employers’ groups raised fears over a lack of preparation time.

But a DTI spokeswoman told Personnel Today that the implementation date had not been moved. The legislation is due to be laid before Parliament in the first quarter of this year, with Acas-written guidance to follow shortly after, she said.

Sam Mercer, director of the Employers Forum on Age, said she was glad there would be no delay.

“I don’t think any extra time would make any difference to employers’ preparation,” she said.

It was more important to have guidance published on the new laws as soon as possible, Mercer said.

“My best guess is that guidance will finally be appearing in April,” she said.

A staff dispute over pay at the Highways Agency last week illustrated the confusion that could await employers after 1 October.

Staff rejected an offer which, the unions claimed, would mean a pay cut for the most experienced staff. The increase – worth 0.5% for staff on the maximum of their scales – was imposed by management last year. For remaining staff, the offer is worth an average 3.48%.

Mercer said that until a body of case law had built up, it would be difficult to say whether this type of pay offer would be discriminatory. Pay and service-related benefits could be one area of confusion because of the potential for indirect age discrimination, she added.

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