While it's far too soon to assess the impact of the age regulations introduced last October, it is worth taking a look at developments to date.
Late last year, we had several hysterical headlines claiming that birthday cards and Christmas parties put employers at unacceptable levels of risk and should be banned without further ado. Apparently, birthday cards open up potential claims of age-based harassment, while a Christmas party venue may offend.
Thankfully, few employers have paid this any attention. In my view, these headlines are groundless and belittle the problem of ageism at work there are far more significant issues that need exposure.
The age laws are in no way perfect. There are some major problems, specifically around insurance (and the provision of insured benefits). While the referral of the Heyday challenge on the default retirement age to the European Court of Justice has created considerable concern over the validity of any enforced public sector retirements, it also puts the future of the default retirement age for all employers at risk.
At the Employers Forum on Age, we predicted a number of potentially negative outcomes from these laws. We were particularly concerned about the position of employees over 65. The age laws give significant additional protection to anyone under 65, but leave those over 65 in a difficult position. Older employees tend to cost more to insure.
In the past, when older employees continued working, employers opted to put them on different terms and conditions. Now they can't be treated differently. This has meant some employers have been 'forced' to apply the default retirement age at 65 because they are unable to bear the additional insurance costs. Before age laws, they would have probably kept them on.
The wider impact and potential withdrawal of all insured benefits (medical insurance, critical illness cover, and so on) has yet to be assessed.
Surprisingly, many employers still seem to be struggling with recruitment - where most of the simple and obvious mistakes are made.
Confusion also reigns over when you can or can't specify periods of experience. The recruitment industr