UK employers unprepared for age discrimination law

Four out of five employers have taken no steps to prepare themselves for new age discrimination legislation due next year, research shows.

The survey of 1,000 employers by Eversheds law firm and Cranfield School of Management also found that one in five respondents believe their board members or and senior managers are not committed to eliminating ageism in the workplace.

The legislation will come into force in October 2006 and will outlaw any discrimination on grounds of age in recruitment, training and promotion.

It will set a retirement age of 65 and will place a duty on employers to consider requests to work beyond that age.

Eversheds employment law partner Audrey Williams said businesses have a mountain to climb during the next 12 months if they are going to change negative attitudes towards age, which appear to be ingrained in UK workplaces.

“What is of particular concern is that these attitudes are present at the very top of an organisation and among HR professionals, suggesting that some businesses simply won’t act until they are faced with an age discrimination claim,” she said.

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