Ageism rife across Europe

Sep 29 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Almost half of workers across Europe believe their workplaces discriminate against older workers, a new survey has suggested.

As Britain gears up for arrival of age anti-discrimination laws this weekend, the poll by recruitment firm Monster found that Spanish and German workers most felt older workers were discriminated against, but Norwegians were the most tolerant towards older workers.

The survey of asked 8,277 European workers "do you feel your company is ageist when it comes to employing new recruits?"

A total of 46 per cent across Europe believed their employers discriminated against older workers when it came to hiring new recruits, although nearly a quarter felt their organisation took a balanced approach.

Mature German and Spanish workers appeared most likely to be discriminated against, with 59 per cent and 54 per cent of those polled respectively saying their organisation was.

By contrast, just 22 per cent of Belgians and 35 per cent of French workers polled felt their company had a similar attitude.

"The issue of age discrimination is a hot topic within the recruitment world," said Alan Townsend, chief operating officer for Monster UK & Ireland.

"From the initial job posting right through to the HR handbook, organisations must be mindful that they are not discriminating against any potential recruits based on their age.

"Having a workforce that is age diverse is an indicator of good practice within a company.

"Furthermore, as we head towards the 'knowledge economy' the more experienced employee brings a superior level of understanding and a richer skill set - which benefits the company as a whole," he added.

An inclusive approach towards recruiting was most prevalent in Norway, with 41 per cent of workers polled saying their company had a balanced view towards the ages of their recruits.

This was closely followed by Danish workers (40 per cent), Ireland (35 per cent) and Belgium (33 per cent).

Yet just 14 per cent across Europe felt their company discriminated against younger potential recruits.

The survey has come as a study by the British Chambers of Commerce has warned that the new age discrimination laws, which come into force on 1 October, could threaten the country's minimum wage.

As it stands at the moment, workers aged under 21 can be paid less than their older colleagues.

But this could be challenged as discriminatory under the new laws, the organisation suggested.