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Age Discrimination Legislation

New age discrimination legislation came into effect on 1 October, 2006. Your business needs to be fully aware of regulations.

Since October 1, 2006, it has been unlawful for employers to discriminate against someone because of their age. This includes providers of vocational training also. All employers, providers of vocational training, trade unions, professional associations, employer organizations and trustees, and managers of occupational pension schemes have new obligations to think about.

The working population is aging and employers must not ignore the need to recruit and retrain older people. This is not a disadvantage, and shouldn't be treated as such. Older employees can bring a wealth of experience, are very reliable. The knowledge and talent of older employees is a fantastic resource to train and mentor younger staff, or staff inexperienced in certain aspects of a job.

Here is some more information on the changes:
  • Regulations cover direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, and victimization. Employers can be held responsible for the actions of employees in all four cases.
  • The regulations cover employment and vocational training. Including access to help and guidance, recruitment, promotion, development, termination, perks and pay.
  • People of all ages are covered not just those considered old.
  • Upper age limits for redundancy and unfair dismissal have been removed.
  • The national default retirement age is now 65, making compulsory retirement below the age of 65 unlawful.
  • Employers now must give employees at least six months notice of their intended retirement date.
  • All employees now have the 'right to request' to be able to work beyond the age of 65. Employers have a 'duty to consider' such requests.
  • Regulations cover occupational pensions and employer contributions to personal pensions. However, the regulations general allow the schemes to operate as they do now.
  • Personal pensions not provided by the employer, are not covered by the draft regulations. Except in the case of employer's own contribution.
  • Employees can vary pension plans according to age, different lengths of service and minimum/maximum ages for admission to pension schemes, and for payment of pensions.
  • Regulations do not affect state pensions.
  • Regulations remove age limits for Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, and Statutory Redundancy Payments Scheme.
Some definitions

'Employment' covers
  • All paid workers. Including self employed, contract workers, office holders, police and members of trade.
  • People applying for work and , in some cases, people who have left work.
  • People taking part in, or applying for, any employment related vocational training. This includes al courses at Further Education and Higher Education institutions.
'vocational training' covers
  • All forms of training and retraining , practical work experience and guidance that contributes to employability.
  • Training provided by employers, or private and voluntary sector providers.
  • Vocational training provided by further and higher education institutions and adult education programmes.
What to do next
  • Review employment policies and practices.
  • Be watchful about words such as 'school leaver' in your recruitment ads.
  • Date of birth requests need to be removed from application forms.
  • Seek solicitor's advice or get it from ACAS
  • Read ACAS useful advice on 'employing older people'
  • Have a look at Be Ready a useful site from Age Positive with information and advice on changes.
  • Visit the Age Concern website
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