Employers must review health and benefit plans to avoid costly age discrimination claims

Employers must review their health and benefit plans or face costly age discrimination claims, Mercer HR consulting has warned.

Private medical cover, income protection and life insurance could be potentially discriminatory when the age legislation is implemented in October, Mercer said. Employers will have to justify any age-related rules in their policies.

John Matthews, principal at Mercer, said: “The government has been extremely unhelpful and left employers in the dark about how their health and benefit plans could contravene new age discrimination regulations. There are numerous areas where companies could trip up – the only way they can stave off potential claims is by conducting a thorough review of their benefit plans.”

Matthews said companies with flexible benefit arrangements were particularly at risk.

“Companies need to anticipate what employment tribunals will consider to be discriminatory and look for potential trouble spots in their benefit provision. They may then need to adapt their policies or take out additional cover to protect themselves,” he said.

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