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New moves against discrimination could end fixed retirement ages


The Department of Trade and Industry has published a set of proposals entitled ‘Towards equality and diversity: Implementing the Employment and Race Directives’, setting out how the government intends to implement European legislation banning discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, religion or age.

The implementation will also require the extension of parts of the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, including removing the 15-employee ‘small employer’ exemption.

One of the results considered by the proposals is that companies might in the future not be permitted to have a compulsory retirement age, except where there is a certain “occupational requirement” for age restrictions. The proposals could also affect the calculation of pay and benefits relating to age. In the document, annual incremental pay is suggested as a fixed exception which would continue to be allowed.

Among the other proposals is the creation of a single Equality Commission, which would work against all forms of discrimination.

Legislation on race, sexual orientation and religion will follow in 2003, on disability and age in 2004 and 2006.

The summary puts the cost of the legislation per employer at £157 per employer, and the benefits at up to £567 million.

The consultation period finishes at the end of March 2002.

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