Employers urged to do more to tackle age discrimination

Age discrimination is becoming a serious problem in UK workplaces, as too many employers are operating “outdated” and “inflexible” employment models, a new report claims.

The Older People and Employment report, which was published by MPs on the Women and Equalities Committee last week, argues that employers, the Government and human rights bodies all need to do more to tackle the growing problem.

It adds that the issue has become “alarming and unacceptable” in recent years and that urgent action is needed.

The report lays out a number of recommendations as to what could be done to improve the enforcement of age discrimination law, as well as employer accountability and transparency.

Specifically, following the recent introduction of gender pay gap reporting, it argues that a new requirement should be introduced forcing businesses to report on the ‘age profile’ of their workforces.

Meanwhile, it adds that recruitment agencies should have a legal “responsibility” to help with removing age discrimination from the recruitment process, by collecting data on the age profiles of job seekers and identifying instances where older workers are being excluded.

According to the report, the number of over-50s living in the UK who are either working or available to work will grow by approximately one million by the year 2025.

During the same period, it estimates that birth rates will continue to decline and inward migration of younger workers will fall as Britain moves to exit the European Union (EU).

As a result of this, it says that the UK and its employers need to adapt in order to meet the needs of an “ageing society.”

Maria Miller, Chairwoman of the Committee, said: “Until we tackle discrimination against the growing number of over-50s, they will continue to be consigned to the ‘too old’ pile, instead of being part of the solution.

“The business case for an age-diverse workforce is clear. Despite this, employers continue to organise workplaces around an outdated, inflexible model that this inquiry – and our past inquiries into fathers in the workplace and the gender pay gap – show no longer works.

“It’s time for a mandatory approach, with flexible working being the default from the time jobs are advertised onwards.”

The report can be accessed in full here.

Hayley Trovato, Senior Associate in OGR Stock Denton’s Employment team, said: “The ageing population means that age discrimination laws are now more important than ever.

“A failure to enforce these laws has the result of wasting the talents of a significant proportion of the population. However, this is not just a questions of law enforcement; there needs to be a shift in employers’ attitudes to employing older workers and treating them fairly.

“Employers need to be more flexible in accommodating older workers’ needs to enable them to flourish and allow them to demonstrate their potential to be valuable assets to the workforce.”

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