Employers get a year to beat ageism at work

The Government is giving employers a year to tackle workplace ageism before it considers legislation, equal opportunities minister Margaret Hodge said last week.

In an exclusive interview with Personnel Today she said the voluntary code of practice needs longer to take effect and that the DfEE will wait until October 2001 to decide if it is working.

Her comments follow the publication in June of the department’s first review of the code – a year after it was introduced. It concluded that the code is having virtually no effect and that few employers even know it exists.

But Hodge dismissed the findings saying they had only started publicising it at the beginning of this year, less than six months before the review was carried out.

Employment figures over the past few months already show unemployment dropping faster in the over-50s than other age groups, she added.

“We want to build on the business case which shows that if you are ignoring people because you believe they are too young or too old you are not going to get the best person for the job. We don’t think legislation is the best way to change cultures.”

Terry Gorman, president of local authority personnel body Socpo, said, “HR knows that the only way to get line managers to change their behaviour is if you tell them they are breaking the law.”

• See next week’s issue for the full interview

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