No reason to delay anti-ageism laws

With regards to your age discrimination article (Personnel Today, 7 December, 2004), this affects the young and the mature alike. The jobseeker is more vulnerable as some measures, such as grievance procedure, representation and unfair dismissal, afford some protection to those employed.

However, existing equality/diversity policies only require minor adjustment to accommodate ageism. The EC regulations due in 2006 have been in place for how long? A further year at least is available to address the planning of this introduction. Equal pay (and marital status) legislation has been around for nearly 30 years yet there is still a 10-15 per cent pay gap. On that basis, if the UK defers this until 2011, when will it take real effect? 2041? Perhaps.

The function of legislation is to protect the abused not the abuser and the chancellor has said he wants everyone to participate in the growth of the economy. It, therefore, [makes no sense to delay] age discrimination for another seven years when our European partners and the Americans are building enlightened policies, as are the better UK companies.

The collapse in pensions has hit the most vulnerable who now need reintegrating into the active economy to repair their pensions prospects.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) was [far from] vociferous about the taking of pension holidays and has campaigned to raise the pension cap for those of sufficient wealth. Trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt has been persuaded by the pensions minister to remove the pension default on legal grounds and was then persuaded by the CBI to ignore the same legal premise to deny legal protection to the age discriminated.

Recent research suggests 37 as being the age at which no discrimination could be detected!

Finally, is it democratic for Hewitt and Alan Johnson to do a deal on this basis? Would the CBI be so keen to defend the ethics and morality of their stance if they had to defend it at a public inquiry? I don’t know. But it will affect everyone of working age sooner or later.

Christopher Hore
Personnel manager, Crest Packaging

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