Task force to hammer out details of age law

A
working party will meet for the first time next month to thrash out the details
of age discrimination legislation that will affect all UK employers.

Employment
minister Margaret Hodge told a select committee that contracts requiring
employees to leave at the age of 65 would be illegal from 2006 when a European
directive designed to tackle all workplace discrimination becomes law.

A
working party including the CBI, the CIPD, the Employers’ Forum on Age, the
TUC, Socpo and Age Concern has been set up to oversee the implementation of the
new legislation and will meet next month.

The
voluntary code on age discrimination introduced in June 1999, which Hodge
admitted had not had the impact anticipated, will be used as a basis of the
working group’s discussions.

Sam
Mercer, campaign director for the EFA, which has 170 member organisations
comprising 10 per cent of the UK workforce, said, “Our members are very
supportive of improving flexible working patterns towards the end of someone’s
life.

“We
should not have a cut-off point. We should be able to manage the retirement
process to suit the individual and to suit the business need for each employer.

“The
main problem will be with the flexibility of the occupational pension scheme.”

Jill
Dawson, equal opportunities officer for Halifax, thought the proposed
legislation could help solve the skills shortage.

She
said, “We will welcome this change in retirement age due to changing
demographics. Its abolition would certainly help with recruitment.”

Spiralling costs in the US over ageism

 

Age discrimination laws in the US have proved costly for
employers. A fifth of all discrimination claims in America are based on age.
Between 1988 and 1995, people claiming age discrimination were awarded an
average of $219,000 compared to $147,799 for race discrimination and $106,728
for sex discrimination. US age claims will be discussed at next month’s
Eversheds Employers’ Convention. For details call 0121-232 1543.

By
Ben Willmott 

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