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Age Discrimination – Not Just Against Older People September 21, 2007

Posted by liverpoolchamber in Business, Chamber HR, Chamber Services, Events, Legislation, Policy, Services, Training.

This weeks Chamber HR news looks at age discrimination and the fact that it’s not just the older members of society who can face it.

The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 came into effect on 1st October 2006.

Regulations cover employers and employees, but extend far beyond to cover people in training, professional bodies, trade unions, office holders like directors, clergy, and many more – it’s not just for big companies.

Most people think of age discrimination in terms of discrimination against older people. It can apply where younger people are discriminated against. So, employers must be wary of framing advertisements which put off younger people as well as avoiding job advertisements which specify upper age limits.

Obviously all forms of age-related harassment and victimisation are outlawed. However Regulations also prohibit direct and indirect discrimination on age grounds. Direct discrimination is often very clear (employers advertising for job applicants who must be under 50). However, indirect discrimination could be less obvious (job advertisements seeking to recruit “recent graduates” could be seen to be discriminating against older applicants). Take care! While requiring a job applicant to put their date of birth on a job application may not amount to discrimination, it could be evidence discrimination is taking place.

During employment employers must not discriminate against employees on age grounds when, say, granting promotions, pay rises and training opportunities. It could be wrong for an employer to refuse to train older staff approaching retirement on the grounds employers would not obtain a full return on their training investment.

At the end of someone’s career the Regulations impose a process which employers, and indeed employees, should follow in the run-up to retirement. The default retirement age is 65 but employees have the right to request to work beyond retirement age and employers must follow a procedure to properly consider such requests. There is a notice system which employers must adopt when employees approach retirement.

We should also all take note that as well as applying to clients we may be advising, the Regulations also apply to our own businesses – it’s important to ensure our own houses are in order.

But, Regulations do not cover the supply of goods and services so would not, for example, prevent insurers refusing to issue a policy purely on age grounds. You may know this – make sure your staff that have contact with clients do too.

Read the Regulations and obtain guidance on their applicability to your particular business. The good news is that as a member of Liverpool Chamber, you have access to the Chamber Legal and ChamberHR service, totally free of charge.

In addition Liverpool Chamber’s Professional Development Programme, runs seminars on aspects of employment law and what’s more you may be able to get back 60% of the cost with Skillworks. For more information on Skillworks visit www.merseyskills.co.uk

Failure to follow it is likely to result in penalties for the employer. Visit www.chamberhr.co.uk for more information


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