Bosses dig their heels in over older workers

Sep 12 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Seven out of 10 bosses say they see no benefit in employing older workers, a survey has found, at the same time as a charity has warned that older UK workers are being shown the door in a rush to avoid next month's anti-discrimination laws.

The survey of more than 1,000 employers by employment law firm Peninsula also found that more than eight out of 10 employers had not revised HR practices to take into account the new laws, which come into force on 1 October.

More than half felt employing staff aged over 65 would cause additional problems because of health issues associated with their age.

And 76 per cent felt the laws were too complicated and needed to be simplified.

Worryingly, just 17 per cent said they currently actively sought older workers for employment, yet 71 per cent felt their employees would request to work beyond retirement age because of the inadequacy of their pensions.

Mike Huss, senior employment law specialist at Peninsula, said: "If employers have not started getting their act together then they need to do so immediately.

"It's quite shocking to see many businesses are not yet prepared for the new measures. Whilst employers see anti-discrimination legislation as good in principle, there are too many who have not started to do anything about it," he added.

"The new laws will open the door to a rise in employment tribunal claims. It's the single biggest change to employment law in the last 30 years."

The findings came as the charity Age Concern warned that older workers were being dumped in the lead-up to the introduction of the new laws.

It said it had received a spate of complaints from older staff claiming they had been sacked without warning in recent weeks, with calls from sacked older workers rising by 200 per cent.

"We have seen a rapid and sharp increase in the number of calls from older employees who are very, very concerned, many of whom are angry," said the charity's Michelle Mitchell.

"They strongly feel that they are being forced out of the workplace because of their age before new age discrimination laws come into place," she added.