The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations and Beyond

01 June 2006

George Leeson

Ageing Horizons no. 5, pp. 12-19, 2006

View Journal Article / Working Paper

In this paper, we consider the implementation of the employment (age) regulations in the United Kingdom in both an historical and an international context, drawing on evidence from the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Ireland. The workplace is not the only setting in which age-based discrimination makes itself felt, but research does indicate that employment provides the most common ground of age discrimination complaints and that age discriminatory practice affects older age groups more than younger age groups. Survey evidence does indicate that many employers regard older workers as equal to if not preferable to younger workers in a number of key employment and productivity areas, while other evidence suggests that age does have an influence on the recruitment decisionmaking process. Age is a factor in the recruitment process and few employers have mechanisms to encourage older workers to apply for jobs, even though many have a formal written policy on equal opportunities (also in respect of age). Older workers are also less likely to be offered job-related training and education. Thus, chronological age does figure in the workplace and in employers’ policies and practices in relation to recruitment and promotion, access to training, retirement, and redundancy. These policies and practices influence the way in which older employees plan for withdrawal from the labour force. The implementation of the employment equality (age) regulations as of October 2006 indeed changes practice and policy in the workplace, but does not signal the end of retirement, and international evidence would indicate that only a small proportion of agerelated cases are taken to tribunal, with an even smaller proportion being upheld there.