Employers are responsible for the actions of their employees. Policies and procedures should expressly prohibit all forms of discrimination on the grounds of age. Staff should be in no doubt that harassment on the grounds of age will not be tolerated. There is no upper age limit to the compensation payable if an employer is found guilty under the new Employment Equality (Age) Regulations act that was brought in on 1st October 2006.
This legislation makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of age in employment and vocational training, unless this can be objectively justified. It prohibits direct discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
Any employer who has not yet done so should draw up an age equality policy. In doing so, it is sensible to consult with your workforce or their representatives. Make sure all staff are aware of the policy and provide any training necessary for its implementation.
The regulations have:
* Introduced a national default retirement age of 65. Compulsory retirement below 65 will be unlawful, except where retirement at a younger age can be objectively justified.
* Removed the current upper age limit for unfair dismissal and redundancy rights.
* Introduced a duty for employers to consider an employees request to continue working beyond the normal retirement age.
* Imposed a requirement that employers give written notification to employees at least six months in advance of their intended date of retirement and notify them of their rights to request to continue working.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration service has published useful guidance for the employers on the regulations. This covers the following areas of employment:
* Recruitment, selection and promotion.
* Pay, benefits and other conditions.
* Bullying and harassment.
There are currently 20 million people aged 50 and over in the UK and the figure is expected to reach 27 million by 2030.
Chris Crawford is MD of BD Recruitment in Manchester, UK