Research shows organisations not ready for age discrimination laws

The government has published research that illustrates the challenges faced by nine sectors of the economy relating to the recruitment, training and retention of older workers.

The Age Partnership Group’s sector-specific research reports will be used to target employers ahead of the introduction of age discrimination legislation on 1 October this year.

The sectors investigated are:

  • Business Services
  • Construction
  • Education
  • Health and social care
  • Hospitality
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Transport and logistics
  • Other community (eg media, sport, public services, the arts)

The research found that:

  • eight sectors use length of experience to fix starting salaries or as a criterion in selection for recruitment and retention

  • seven use age or length of service as the basis for redundancy decisions

  • five provide age information about candidates to short-listing and interviewing staff

  • four set maximum or contractual retirement ages, and for two of these sectors the contractual retirement age is often below 65.

The reports also examine what employers are doing to remove compulsory retirement ages and adopt flexible approaches, and look at how the age legislation affects young people in the workforce.

James Purnell, minister for pension reform, said: “As announced in the Pensions White Paper, we are working with employers to remove compulsory retirement ages and adopt flexible approaches.

“We recognise that we have an ageing population, with many older people who want the choice to continue working rather than retire. We are working closely across the sectors to ensure that businesses have all the information they need to make the necessary adjustments.”

David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation said: “Given our rapidly changing demographics and the pressure on skills, companies need to recognise the valuable contribution that older employees can often make.

“We have to move our mindset away from the traditional view of full-scale retirement at 65 and adapt working practices if necessary to make the skills fit the job, not the other way round.”

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