Age discrimination laws help staff work longer

Most employers have increased their retirement age to 65 to comply with the anti-ageism regulations, despite being legally entitled to keep a lower one if they can objectively justify their reasons for doing so, according to recent research.

A survey by Personnel Today’s sister publication IRS Employment Review looking at the impact of the regulations two years since their implementation, also showed that the number of employers with no fixed retirement age has increased from 14% to 24% in that time.

The survey of 97 employers, covering a combined workforce of almost 541,000 people, showed that 80% of had received requests from staff to work beyond the normal retirement age, and 93% had agreed to either some or all of them.

Most of the respondents had already adopted good-practice based equality procedures before the regulations were introduced, and few had to amend their practices as a result of the new laws. Half (49%) already met the requirements of the anti-age discrimination regulations, while 22% had practices in place that went beyond their requirements.

However, where change was needed it was usually related to person specifications (68%), job descriptions (60%), recruitment policies (60%), and application forms (60%).

Only 26% of the employers surveyed had to change their practices to comply with the regulations. Of this group, 44% aimed to comply with the law 24% aimed to exceed its requirements in some areas and 32% aimed to surpass the regulations’ requirements in all respects.

Line manager training (56%), the corporate equality policy (48%), and the monitoring of equal opportunities (48%) were also either changed or introduced in order to comply with the new legislation.

IRS’ review of the literature on the impact of the changes concluded that employers would gain the most business benefits from compliance if they responded in certain ways, including:

  • using changes in equalities law as the basis for broader, good-practice HR policies and procedures intended to deliver business benefits

  • ensuring that line managers are equipped with appropriate knowledge and interpersonal skills

  • developing a set of cultural values that fosters equal treatment and fairness.

Benefits to employers of the age discrimination regulations 

Benefit   % of employers
 Contributed to reducing skills shortages or other recruitment difficulties


 Helped to broaden age profile of recruits


 Helped meet corporate social responsibility objectives


 Better cross-section of skills, knowledge or attitudes in its workforce


 Encouraged changes that have improved staff retention


 The workforce now better reflects employer’s customer base or wider society


 Helped to recruit younger people to offset employer’s ageing workforce


 Helped to recruit older workers to balance employer’s mainly younger workforce




Source: IRS Employment Review

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