Sixteen million workers have claimed to have witnessed ageist behaviour in the workplace in the last 12 months since new age discrimination laws came into force, research has revealed.
The study, by the Employers Forum on Age (EFA), has been released as the UK marks the first anniversary of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 on 1 October.
The findings revealed that 86 per cent of people are aware it is illegal to discriminate on the grounds of age at work, compared to just 51 per cent this time last year. Yet, 59 per cent have witnessed ageism at work in the last year alone.
Sam Mercer, EFA chief executive, said: “It is great that awareness of age discrimination issues among British adults has increased at an impressive pace since the law was passed 12 months ago. This proves that the laws served a purpose in terms of getting ageism on the radar. However, it is bad news for those employers who are still falling well short of the required standards of practice.”
Retirement seems to be one area where older people are particularly affected. Results showed that 92 per cent of those surveyed believe they should have the right to work for as long as they like, however, 21 per cent said their employer would force them to retire at 65.
Mercer added: “This disparity between employees’ expectations and the flexibility employers are prepared to offer will inevitably lead to tension. It is time for employers to think seriously about following in the footsteps of some leading EFA members and removing mandatory retirement ages.
“Age discrimination laws have been in effect for one year, and good progress has been made in some areas. However, ageist attitudes are still ingrained and changing that culture is a much bigger task, but one which cannot be avoided.”