Employers have been criticised by a government minister for doing too little
to eradicate workplace ageism – which he describes as "just as devastating
as racial or sexual discrimination".
Pensions minister Malcolm Wicks said the problem of age discrimination was
growing despite skills shortages and a shrinking working population.
Speaking exclusively to Personnel Today, he said HR professionals should be
doing more to break down the barriers facing older workers and helping to
dispel some of the negative attitudes.
"I don’t think employers are doing enough, although there are some
frontrunners leading the way," he said.
"Employers should be challenging HR departments to get rid of unhelpful
stereotypes of older workers and asking questions about how the business can
open up the issue."
He said forthcoming laws, that will outlaw age discrimination in 2006, would
encourage employers to look at the business benefits of recruiting more older
However, he dismissed calls for more financial incentives, such as tax
breaks for staff and businesses when working beyond the traditional retirement
Wicks also explained that the Government was trying to make the UK more
pension literate, but admitted it’s worried about the number of organisations
closing final salary schemes.