cv writer Mike Kelley

Ageism in the Workplace

"I come across people all the time who wish they researched and kept up-to-date with their rights in the workplace regarding their age . Most of those who did are still in employment or have received substantial compensation as well as achieving a high quality work-life balance".

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First there was sexism, then racism...... now another ‘ism’ is poised to cause more headaches for employers including how they word their job advertisements - Ageism. EU Employment Directive, bans any age discrimination in employment and vocational training. And the warning to unaware employers is: watch out for the pitfalls.




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The directive includes:

The scrapping of mandatory retirement ages. where employers can dismiss staff when they reach a certain age -  unless it can be justified. The possibility of a default retirement age of 70, when employers could require employees to retire without having to justify their decision. Situations where employers could, in exceptional circumstances, justify treating people differently because of their age.

Changes to the law on unfair dismissal and redundancy.
This also means that a examples of age discrimination will be outlawed, including an employer telling a worker they are too old to go on train, and a bar on advertisements specifying upper age limits for applications. Despite the fact that new legislation outlaws reference to age in job adverts, ageism is still rife at present.  A study by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) finds that 1 in 5 job seekers have been discouraged from applying to a position because it contained an age restriction. The study shows that although prejudice is much worse for those over 40, 1 in 12 of those under 35 were also discriminated against for being too young. In addition to this, twice this number believe they have been rejected for being too young, but have no evidence. Such practices are illegal with new legislation outlawing any reference of age in recruitment adverts, interviews or at the workplace.

The CIPD warned employers that they need to start changing their ways straight away instead of waiting for the Government to implement legislation from Europe. The CIPD says that judging people by their age creates artificial problems in the labour market and effectively blinds organisations to obvious sources of talent, but with a shrinking younger population and a growing older one, employers will have no alternative but to change. Employers will require an understanding of how to manage, recruit, reward, train and motivate employees across all age ranges, and at all stages of their careers.

The study also points out that by 2050, there will be only two working people to support every pensioner. If if older people were not discriminated against, the UK economy would benefit by more than 30 billion a year, but will the theory struggle to overcome the reality for many workers, who could continue to feel that they are on the career scrap heap by the age of 40?

Let’s hope the apparent good intentions will halt any current negative practice, but how likely are the rules going to change perceptions or behavioural patterns? One suspects the reality is nothing will really change other than the emergence of new legislative-aware processes, more carefully worded job advertisements and an ever increasing litigious population aware of opportunity.

Employers have many factors to consider when recruiting staff. The ultimate choice of candidate will be multi-faceted with age a valid consideration among many other criteria. The final choice will always be the most suitable person for the role available within budgetary parameters. One one cannot get away from the fact that getting older will close doors of opportunity.

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