Ageism claims could follow anti-bias law

Employers are likely to face an avalanche of costly claims from aggrieved older workers in the wake of a new EU Anti-discrimination directive.

The directive was agreed last week by the EU’s Employment and Social Policy Council and will also make it illegal for employers to discriminate against staff on grounds of sexual orientation, religion or disability.

The Government has a deadline of three years to meet the directive’s requirements on religious and sexual orientation and six years to make necessary UK legislative changes on age and disability discrimination.

"This directive has come in at lightning speed and has shocked and stunned many of my clients. We all thought the revolution of employment legislation was coming to an end but here it is happening again," said Russell Brimelow, head of the employment group at Boodle Hatfield.

He said it would mean a huge new liability for employers.

But the news was welcomed by those companies who are leading the way on promoting and retaining an older workforce. Brian Worthington, HR director for Choice Hotels Europe, said the existing voluntary code of practice on age discrimination lacks teeth and has not achieved enough progress.

"I am delighted other employers are going to be forced to fall in line with us now," he said.

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