Employers ignoring impending age legislation

Feb 03 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Employers are failing to gear up for legislation that will outlaw ageism at work in Britain, new research has found.

The Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI), a quarterly survey of UK directors' and managers' expectations of changes in recruitment activity and business conditions, has found that only just over a third (39 per cent) had introduced age policies at work with a further one in four planning to introduce policies over the next 12 months.

But nearly one in three - 30 per cent - had no clear plans despite looming legislation that will make it illegal to refuse someone a job, promotion, training or benefits because of their age from October 2006.

The research amongst nearly 1,500 employers also reveals that hundreds of bosses are unaware of the ageing workforce and the declining pool of younger talent.

One in five employers said they had no knowledge of population changes and one in four claimed any such changes would have no impact on their businesses.

The research also highlights that age stereotyping affects young and old alike. Nearly half - 45 per cent - of respondents say older workers lack technological skills; 23 per cent say older people are slow to learn and 22 per cent say older people are not interested in training.

Younger workers on the other hand are viewed as 'inexperienced' by 60 per cent of employers, prone to take sick leave (52 per cent) and as 'unreliable' (37 per cent).

However, a sizeable number of employers are also aware of the benefits an age diverse workforce can bring to the business. They say age diversity reduces turnover (53 per cent) improves moral (41 per cent), raises productivity (35 per cent) and increases profits (16 per cent).

Shaun Tyson, Professor of Human Resource Management at Cranfield School of Management said: "There is clearly a sizeable minority of employers for whom ageism is a non-issue.

"They are making a big mistake because attitudes towards age are not just about compliance with the law, but are about the availability of high quality people in the workforce.

"Good people come in every race, gender and age," he added.