The long-awaited final measures to outlaw age discrimination in the workplace have been published by the Department of Trade and Industry.
The regulations will provide important new rights and responsibilities for every employee and business in the UK.
Trade and industry secretary, Alan Johnson, said: “Ageism will affect more people, at some stage in their lives, than any other form of discrimination. But until now the law of the land has allowed it to continue.
“With these new regulations it will become illegal for workers to miss out on recruitment, promotion or training because of prejudice about their age”
The regulations will:
ban age discrimination in terms of recruitment, promotion and training
ban unjustified retirement ages of below 65
remove the current age limit for unfair dismissal and redundancy rights.
They will also introduce:
a right for employees to request working beyond retirement age and a duty on employers to consider that request
a new requirement for employers to give at least six months’ notice to employees about their intended retirement date so that individuals can plan better for retirement, and be confident that ‘retirement’ is not being used as cover for unfair dismissal.
“Ageism hits younger people too, who can find themselves discriminated against in the jobs market,” said Johnson. “For business to thrive in an increasingly competitive market, it must not ignore the skills of any worker, whatever their age. The regulations give younger workers new protection too.”
The regulations include transitional provisions to ensure that employers can manage the process of retirement effectively in the first six months after the regulations coming into force on 1 October.
Manufacturers’ organisation EEF said the government must now mount a major campaign to change society’s attitude about age if the forthcoming legislation is to be successful.
David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy and a member of the Age Advisory Group that has been advising the government, said: “This is one of the most complex pieces of employment legislation that employers have had to cope with for many years.
“However, while manufacturers support the principle of legislation about age discrimination, the government now has an important responsibility to create a major cultural change in society about attitudes towards age. It should not simply rely on employers to achieve this important objective.”