The new Age Discrimination legislation that comes into force
on 1 October 2006 is the UK's response
to a European Directive on Equal Treatment in employment.
In summary, the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 do
- ban any discriminatory procedures in recruitment on the
grounds of age - this includes workers at any age, not only
- outlaw age-related harassment in the workplace on the
lines of current gender equality legislation
- outlaw workplace benefits that are age-related
- prevent training provision discriminating on grounds of
- remove the current age limits for unfair dismissal and
- ban unjustified retirement ages below 65
- set a default retirement age of 65, allowing companies to
set retirement ages at 65 or above
- give workers approaching 65 the "right to request" to continue working beyond this
age. As with the recent
parental flexible working rights, the employer is obliged
to "consider" this request.
But there is no right to request flexible working associated -
just a right to request continuing to work.
- Retirement is kept under review after the official
retirement date: employers must give at least 6 months
notice of their intention to retire the employee, and the
worker has a continuing right to request to continue working.
Why this, why now?
While these new regulations are motivated by fairness and a
desire to end discrimination, they are also driven by the
reality of living in an ageing society with an ageing workforce.
With people now expecting to live more than 20 years beyond
retirement age, longer working lives are necessary to pay for
this, both in terms of state contributions and personal savings.
And a harsher reality is that 1 in 3 people out of work over
the age of 50 never work again. It is vital for the
economy to remove the barriers to employment and self-employment
for the over-50s
The good news is that people are fit and active for longer.
But do may people really want to work until they drop?
The answer is that if they had the financial security, most
people would not want to carry on working at the same rate of
intensity. But many would like to carry on working, either
at a less intense rate or doing something completely different.
The flexible options
Studies have shown that there is a high demand for flexible
working options amongst the over 50s, and a high level of
satisfaction amongst older workers who work this way.
Options which could suit many older
workers - including those beyond official retirement age - include:
consultations find that this is a relatively popular option
for the over 45s. The sticking point is often
financial, including the impact on pensions. We are
likely to see a rise in part-time employment as n option for
working beyond 65 and as an alternative to retirement.
Short-term contract working
involve running or contributing to projects where their
skills and experience are vital with the same company, or on
a freelance or
interim management basis
or all of former role from a home or local office. This can
be particularly valuable for smaller firms needing to retain
skills of a worker who wants to edge towards retirement and
option in leisure and hospitality industries where older
workers provide experience and stability which can rub off
on younger casual workers. Already common for older
workers in rural and tourist industries.
over 50 would like to set up a business on their own, either
using their career skills or setting off i a new direction.
It may involve downshifting to a more modest or tranquil
lifestyle. Perhaps a cottage industry in a live/work home.
Any of the above options can help in providing an income
stream while the new fledgling business finds its feet.
In the media there have been some some dire warnings about
the implications of the new laws. But more enlightened
employers will see a new context for retaining valuable skills
in the company and saving costs on recruitment, while helping
employees into a new age of balanced living.