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Age Discrimination Regulations

You may have seen that the final draft of the age discrimination regulations (the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006) has now been published. The Regulations are due to come into force on 1 October.

The Regulations will, among other things:

  • outlaw age discrimination in recruitment, promotion and vocational training (goods and services are not included)

  • introduce a default retirement age of 65; retirement ages below that need to be objectively justified

  • introduce a right for employees to request working beyond retirement age & a duty on employers to consider the request

  • remove the upper and lower age limits for claiming redundancy pay (the age bands for redundancy pay will be maintained even though in the consultation document the Government indicated that these would be removed)

  • remove the upper age limit (65) for redundancy pay and the tapering down of redundancy pay between the ages of 64 and 65

 

Worryingly, the Regulations will allow for direct age discrimination to be objectively justifiable, unlike all other forms of direct discrimination. The Regulations also contain a host of prescribed exemptions, where it will not be unlawful to discriminate on grounds of age. These include:

  • Various rules, practices, actions and decisions relating to pensions scheme, e.g. use of age as a criteria for admission

  • Dismissals for retirement at default retirement of 65, or the normal retirement age if this is above 65

  • Service-related pay & benefits which use length of service of less than 5 years as a criteria for eligibility.

  • National Minimum Wage & contractual youth rates which follow the NMW age bands

  • Enhanced redundancy payments

 

Although the Regulations do not come into force until October, it is likely that employers will start revising their policies now to ensure that they are compliant with the legislation. Some employers may well seek to level down current entitlements or benefits on the pretext of compliance with the Regulations.

A detailed briefing on the Regulations will be issued in due course. The final draft Regulations and related consultation papers are available from the DTI website: http://www.dti.gov.uk/er/equality/age.htm

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