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Practical effects of age discrimination

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What does the future hold for CVs and job titles once age discrimination rules come into force on Sunday?

They are just two of the questions research by project management recruitment specialists Arras People has raised.

The headline finding of a 40 per cent lack of awareness broadly supports the Employers Forum on Age’s findings earlier this week.

Arras People’s research went further by looking at age groups: in the 50-plus group, only 15 per cent of respondents were unaware of the regulations but in the 16-34 bracket, 64 per cent were unaware.

Under the new regulations, employers will not be allowed to use age as a consideration in employment, promotion or retirement decisions. Yet 81 per cent of respondents have no plans to change their CVs to remove their date of birth.

But 60 per cent of respondents expect agency recruitment staff to amend non-compliant CVs before submitting them to potential employers.

John Thorpe, a director of Arras People, said: “The objectives are commendable, but it is difficult to predict how this legislation will work in practice.

“The Regulations use terms such as ‘legitimate aim’ and ‘proportionate’ which lack any clear definition. Removal of birth dates from CV’s is only part of the story, as work history and education details generally indicate age. In any case, our survey indicates the majority of people will probably not be making any change to these aspects of their CVs.

“The question is, will the CV as we know it today have any relevance in the future, or will we need to find a new way of ‘neutrally’ presenting candidates to prospective clients?

“Employers can no longer describe roles as ‘senior’ or ‘junior’, even in long-established hierarchies and career structures. Employers will have to define precisely what attributes their employees need in terms of skills, experience and qualifications without recourse to simple statements such as ‘5 years’ experience’.

“It is a classic paradox: a candidate can still provide a CV in which they describe themselves as a ‘senior project manager’ as this is describing how they see themselves against their peers (from an experience point of view) but a potential employer can no longer ask for a ‘senior project manager’ as this could be seen as discrimination!”

According to Mr Thorpe, employees may need to start rethinking, how they classify their career levels.

Phrases like ‘ten years’ experience’ will have to be replaced by concrete examples against which candidates and employees alike can be measured. This could lead towards industry or sector recognised ‘professional’ career levels which are explicit and published for all to use.

Mr Thorpe added: “The regulations are well meaning, but have the potential to impose another meaningless level of bureaucracy, without making any real difference to the majority of active employees and job seekers.”

This thought is echoed by the survey: 60 per cent of respondents do not believe the legislation will improve job opportunities. The percentage rises to 64 per cent for the over 50s.

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Annie Hayes

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