It has been described as the most complex piece of employment legislation introduced since the Labour government came into office in 1997.
The measures to outlaw age discrimination in the workplace have been long-anticipated. A consultation document has now been issued to outline the UK government's take on the European Employment Directive. It will become law in October 2006.
The draft, which is open to consultation until 17 October 2005, sets out a number of proposals, including:
- A ban on age discrimination in recruitment, promotion and training
- A ban on all retirement ages below 65 - except where objectively justified
- The removal of the current upper age limit for unfair dismissal and redundancy rights.
Personnel Today has consulted HR professionals, employers' groups, lawyers, unions, special interest groups and recruitment firms to find out what the legislation will mean for them. Ross Bentley reports
John Cridland, deputy director-general at the CBI, broadly welcomed the proposed regulations, but raised concerns about the failure to exempt all length-of-service benefits from the draft regulations.
"Companies that currently reward long-serving employees through enhanced sick pay and holiday allowances could risk age discrimination claims from younger employees who have been with the firm for less time. In these circumstances, firms might be forced to withdraw this kind of benefit," he said.
David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy at manufacturing and engineering group EEF, was disappointed the government had yet to decide on a future formula that will be used for calculating statutory redundancy pay.
"This must be resolved quickly and in a way that does not impose additional costs on employers," he said.
John Maxted, managing director, Digby Morgan, said: "While many businesses have established diversity functions, others require a change of culture.
"We are working with clients to open their minds. I think there is a prevailing culture in the UK that employers prefer to take on people who have their best years ahead of them rather than those who may have already reached their peak."
Hugo Tucker, managing consultant, Ortus HR, said: "Companies would benefit immensely from broadening their selection criteria. It wi