Personnel Today brings together a group of legal and industry experts to examine how different sectors are shaping up, and what specific threats they will face.
Catering and hospitality
Hotel and catering is renowned for being a 'young' industry, and many employers in the sector are unconvinced of the business benefits of the new laws.
A recent study by the Thames Gateway Forum on Equality, Access and Participation revealed a clear bias in the sector towards employing people under 30. A heavy reliance on casual student labour and a desire to reflect younger clientele means many establishments confine themselves to a narrow recruitment pool.
Anne Pierce, chief executive of Springboard, a careers portal for the hospitality industry, says the sector needs to see age legislation as an opportunity rather than a burden. "Employers must not bury their heads in the sand and continue as if age legislation won't hit them," she says. "All the research indicates that good age practices help improve staff retention, so we have everything to gain from being ready."
Because of high labour turnover, the sector will need an additional 850,000 people by 2014, so it needs to broaden its approach to recruit from all age groups.
What to watch out for:
- Job ads looking for 'young dynamic bar staff' or similar could be found to be indirectly discriminatory.
- Try not to match the selection criteria to the audience of the venue - if a restaurant is known for its younger clientele, it may not attract a wider pool of applicants of all ages.
- If bar, restaurant or hotel owners continue to recruit within a certain age bracket, they will have to objectively justify the need for that age band of staff. Consider applications from older workers to even out the predominance of younger employees.
- Beware of informal methods of recruitment, such as word of mouth, as this may lead to age bias.
- Don't use age to fix starting salary - 21% of companies in the hospitality sector do this, according to research from the Age Partnership Group, and smaller firms are more likely to do this than larger employers.
- Don't use 'last in, first out' as a basis for redundancy, as in this sector it is more than likely to discriminate against the younger members of the workforce.
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