It will take employers many months to draw up policies that will put an end to age discrimination at work - and protect them from possible prosecution - according to new research.
The research, by IRS Employment Review, shows that approximately four in 10 employers have no formal or informal policy on age diversity or age discrimination.
But regulations due to be published in draft form by early 2004 will spell out how the government intends to implement the relevant aspects of the EU Employment Directive by October 2006, making it unlawful for employers to discriminate on grounds of age.
The survey, of 83 HR departments across the private and public sectors, shows:
- Approximately one-third of employers operate a formal written policy on age discrimination and/or age diversity within their organisations
- The remainder - 55 respondents - have no formal policy, although many report that an informal policy exists. Overall, just over a quarter said they have an informal policy
- Only four organisations (just 5 per cent) said they set both minimum and maximum ages for recruits
- Just 6 per cent of respondents set a maximum age limit only
- The majority (61 per cent of those answering the question) of employers surveyed claim they do not formally set either minimum or maximum ages for new recruits. Just over a quarter (20 organisations) set a minimum age only
- One in five organisations report they have no mandatory retirement age.
IRS Employment Review report author, Janet Egan, said: “Some employers will have to change stereotypical or hostile attitudes to older workers, just as they had to change attitudes to race and sex when discrimination laws tackled these areas more than 25 years ago.
"It is in the interests of employers to have policies that encourage older workers to stay with them if they want enough workers to get the job done.
“Almost every organisation in the IRS study claimed it did not discriminate against older workers in recruitment, promotion, training or redundancy selection. But, in practice, it is widely acknowledged that older applicants frequently fall at the first hurdle - ob