News in brief

Woman killed herself after age discrimination case

A 50-year-old Czech woman committed suicide after being told that she was too old for a job. She had applied for a post in the legal department of the land registry in the town of Beroun, south west of Prague. The long-time unemployed woman lost a subsequent discrimination case, even though she had the required education and work experience. She also had a letter in writing from the head of the land registry that she had been rejected because of her age. She was also ordered to cover the court costs. The judge, whose decision was a breach of employment legislation, nevertheless said “advancement in years can be a limiting factor” and pointed to the example of ballet dancers. The country’s minister of labour Zdenek Skromach, exasperated by the incident, told workers it shouldn’t deter them from turning to the courts if they feel discriminated against.

East beats West for European retirement ages

The average male worker in Eastern Europe can claim their state pension two-and-a-half years earlier than those in Western Europe, according to research by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. For women, the difference is even greater, at five years. In Eastern Europe, the average state pension age for women is 58 years and 11 months compared to 63 years and 11 months in Western Europe. Meanwhile, Eastern European men are able to claim their state pension at 62 years and three months, whereas those in the West must wait until they are at least 64 years and 10 months. Those countries with low statutory retirement ages include Slovenia, where women retire at 54 years and eight months and men at 60 years and six months. Italian men can claim a state pension at 62. The statutory retirement age for men in most Western European countries is 65.

US programme helps former criminals back to work

A US employment programme is helping former criminal offenders re-enter the workforce. The $300m (166m) Prisoner Re-entry Initiative funds programmes to integrate individuals back into the workplace, while recognising that developing job skills and finding employment are key factors in reducing reoffending. The Department of Labor has used initiative funding to partner with community organisations and businesses to offer ex-offenders job training, placement, mentoring and support services, while assisting employers with references and candidate screening. Over the next three years, US correctional institutions will release about 1.8 million men and women. Employers are being told that a dwindling workforce means they need to reach out to this population. Groups taking part in the project have seen promising results, particularly in urban centres.

Retiring baby-boomers will hit Canadian economy

Labour shortages and employee healthcare benefits will soar in Canada in the coming decade, as baby boomers retire, forcing companies to keep older workers on the payroll longer. According to a report by the Conference Board of Canada, the cost of benefits for these ageing employees will rise by 0.8 per cent per year by 2020. Canadians born between 1947 and 1966 currently account for 31 per cent of the population, and their retirement was expected to influence the labour market in this decade. But that will be delayed because of more women working, and staying at work longer than their predecessors. To maintain a sufficient labour force, the report recommends extending normal retirement age past 65, offering workers flexible schedules, job sharing and telecommuting, and enticing skilled immigrants from the Indian subcontinent.


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