Age discrimination laws still unclear

With less than 12 months until the introduction of the age discrimination law, the Government is being criticised for failing to produce clear legislation that businesses can use to prepare for the ‘biggest piece of employment law for a decade’.

With less than 12 months until the introduction of the age discrimination law, the Government is being criticised for failing to produce clear legislation that businesses can use to prepare for the ‘biggest piece of employment law for a decade’.

With less than 12 months until the introduction of the age discrimination law, the Government is being criticised for failing to produce clear legislation that businesses can use to prepare for the ‘biggest piece of employment law for a decade’.

In true school teacher style, members of the Employer’s Forum on Age (EFA) gave the Government a paltry four out of ten for effort for failing to produce clear and complete regulations that are due to come into effect on 1 October 2006.

The new proposals include:

  • No age criteria in recruitment, promotion and training (without justification)
  • No mandatory retirement before 65 (without justification)
  • New processes to manage retirement for everyone
  • No upper limits on unfair dismissal
  • No direct age criteria in redundancy
  • Pensions generally exempt

The new laws seem destined to receive a hostile reception as a survey from EFA members shows:

  • 84 per cent think the Government’s approach to retirement will lead to frustration from employees who believe they have a right to keep working.
  • 63 per cent think that rather than encouraging organisations to keep people on post 65, the new age regulations will actually encourage employers to retire everyone at 65
  • 79 per cent think the time scales proposed in the new ‘planned retirement’ process are unworkable
  • 89 per cent find the Government’s approach to service related benefits confusing, while 75 per cent believe age regulations put annual leave, sickness benefits and long service awards under threat

Many of the proposed age regulations remain incomplete, say the EFA, and the Government has already indicated that even those published may change. To date, there is no information on:

  • Transitional arrangements (for planned retirement and redundancy schemes that straddle October 2006)
  • When the final regulations will be published
  • New redundancy arrangements
  • Final version of pension scheme exemptions

‘UK employers are getting desperate. They were promised two years to prepare for the biggest piece of employment law for a decade, yet age laws will be introduced in less than 12 months, and still the regulations remain unclear and incomplete,’ comments Sam Mercer, director of the EFA. ‘Vital information on issues such as redundancy will come out in dribs and drabs, and UK employers will be lucky if they have all the details by April next year.’

For more information, visit www.efa.org.uk

Related Topics

Discrimination

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