The impact of ageism laws

On 1 October 2006 the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations came into force in the UK.This was hailed as one of the biggest changes to employment law in the last 25 years, making it unlawful to discriminate against workers under the age of 65 on the grounds of age (BBC, 16th September 2006).But one year on, how much of an impact have the laws had?

The Guardian suggests that there is evidence that 'ageism is still endemic in the workplace' (The Guardian, 28th September 2007).It reports findings from a survey by the Employers Forum on Age (EFA), in which over half of all respondents claim to have witnessed ageist behaviour in the workplace in the last 12 months.The BBC reports an increase in legal action in the last year, with more than 2,000 tribunal claims being filed. With legal cost of cases coming in at an average £5,800 a claim, behaviour in the workplace may begin to change by firms worried about the risk of a claim (BBC, 20th September 2007).

As an ageing population results in a growing dependency ratio, the Government will be eager to encourage greater employment rates amongst older workers.For firms too, what is commonly referred to as the 'grey workforce' can represent a highly experienced and reliable source of labour.The Times 100 case study looking at diversity recruitment at Lloyds, highlights the benefits of employing a range of different people where 'diversity brings richness and variety'.

The Times highlights that changes to the regulations chiefly protect people in the workplace and do not extend to the protection of greying consumers (The Times, 3rd September 2007).The charity Help the Aged is calling for a Single Equality Bill to include a ban on age discrimination to cover the provision of goods, facilities and services, after claims that older people face discrimination when claiming medical services (BBC, 2nd September 2007).As our voting population ages, perhaps wider-ranging regulations will become more likely.


Q&A: Age discrimination law – BBC News, 18 September 2006

Ageism still rife in workplace – Guardian, Friday September 28, 2007

Ageism – still a grey area? – BBC News, 30 September 2007

The Times 100 Case Study – Lloyds TSB, The business benefits of diversity

Charities want ageism ban in finance and health services – TimesOnline , 3 September 2007

Call for more action on ageism – BBC News, 2 September 2007

Potential Study Questions:

Help the Aged are calling for a Single Equality Bill.What other anti-discrimination laws would this bill include?

How has Lloyds TSB promoted diversity recruitment?

What is meant by the term 'dependency ratio'?

Apart from the introduction of anti-ageism laws, evaluate two other government policies that might solve the problem of the ageing population.