The TUC conference has backed a motion to amend the new age discrimination regulations to stop people aged over 65 being fired because of their age.
The union group’s backing heaps further pressure on the government to revise the regulations after a long campaign by Age Concern to end the use of mandatory retirement ages.
New age regulations that come into effect from 1 October will give older workers new rights in employment, education and training. For the first time, they will have protection from unfair discrimination in recruitment, promotion, training and dismissal.
But staff aged over 65 can still be forced to retire against their wishes, and employers will still be able to refuse to hire someone over the age of 65.
Gordon Lishman, director-general of Age Concern, said: “I am delighted that trade unions have backed our campaign to consign forced retirement to history. The government must acknowledge that mandatory retirement ages do not make any sense.
“The government is now standing at odds with unions, charities, progressive employers and public opinion. A birth certificate should not be an excuse to hand someone their P45 – age is not a proxy for performance.”
Sally Hunt, joint general secretary of the University and College Union, who tabled the motion, said: “All workers, regardless of their age, should be treated with respect and be fully protected by employment rights.
“It is the role of the union to fight for those rights and to protect their members. Today unions have sent a clear message that they will not stand for age discrimination.”