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Firms call for help on new age discrimination laws

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UK managers are still unclear about the government's plans to introduce new age discrimination laws, according to a survey published by recruitment specialists Kelly Services and the Employers Forum on Age (EFA).

  • Only 9% of UK managers are fully aware of the government's plans for age discrimination legislation.
  • Managers are calling on the Government to provide more information and practical support for business.
  • 78% of managers believe new age discrimination laws will not change the recruitment practices in their organisation.

The Ageism in Business survey 2003, which questioned managers of different ages, working for companies varying in size, industry type and location, found that most were in favour of age discrimination legislation in principle, but only a small minority (9%) were fully aware of the government's plans for introducing age legislation in 2006, while less than a fifth knew about the main changes proposed. Two thirds said they need more information on the proposed new laws.

When questioned about their knowledge of the proposed changes to the law, a majority of managers appeared unsure about their possible impact. More than three quarters believe that the legislation will not change the recruitment practices in their organisation, despite the fact that recruitment is one of the most obvious areas set to be affected.

Managers are looking to the government to take practical action to inform employers about the legislation and encourage businesses to recruit older workers. Two thirds want to see more training courses made available to increase employability among older workers.

However, it seems that positive messages about the business benefits of recruiting older workers are being understood. Three quarters (76%) of managers questioned believe older workers bring experience and loyalty to a job and 67% think they are more reliable than younger workers.

In fact, the survey highlighted negative perceptions of younger workers – who were perceived by some managers as being more likely to leave after being trained. Nearly one third of respondents said they would feel more comfortable working for an older rather than a younger manager.

Sam Mercer, Director of the Employers Forum on Age, said: "The results of the survey show that although positive messages are getting through, ageist stereotyping is still taking place throughout UK business. Employers need to face up to the challenge and ensure they recruit according to ability not age."

The government will outlaw age discrimination in employment by 2006. The second phase of the consultation is currently underway and will come to a close this autumn.

Related items
Opinion: age discrimination
Firms lack formal policies on age discrimination
Feature article: age discrimation – a job for life

One Response

  1. we simply haven’t researched enough
    Employers are doubly handicapped by the Government’s preference for slow change and a lack of awareness about the European context. The new grounds result from EU legislation that aims to “level up” anti-discrimination rights across the EU. Employers need therefore to be aware not just of what is happening in the UK but what is happening across the EU. Managers who beleive that the new rights will not change their practices had better find out what their colleagues in other EU countries are saying.

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