Employers are being urged to study the new age regulations and take immediate action to avoid facing employment tribunals and hefty fines.
The new regulations give employers just six months to prepare before they become statutory.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said employers that either delayed or simply avoided taking action would be vulnerable to tribunal claims when the law comes into force in October this year.
Dianah Worman, CIPD diversity adviser, said: “The complexity of the regulations leaves employers little time to get ready, so taking action now is imperative.
“Although research suggests that many employers have already taken steps to get to grips with tackling age discrimination, making preparations for the new legislation presents extensive challenges to workplace policies and practices.”
The CIPD is also critical of the government’s decision not to abolish the default retirement age of 65, leaving workers over that age unprotected by the new regulations.
“Having a default retirement age of 65 makes no sense given that it will be reviewed in five years time and may be raised to 70 to reflect individual choice, the reality of population changes, skills shortages and economic activity rates,” said Worman. “Employers will then be faced with further reviews to process and procedures to allow people and business more flexibility to extend employment opportunities. This could turn into a bureaucratic nightmare rather than a means to foster gradual cultural change with regards to working life.”
The CIPD is urging the government to influence cultural change in the workplace through informed communication based on education and awareness.