New Laws Will Cut out All Those Greyish Areas
Byline: By Joe Thornhill
Within the next 12 months, age discrimination legislation will be with us, making it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of age.
The draft regulations, which were issued in July 2005 and will come into force on October 1, 2006, are widely thought to be one of the most far-reaching pieces of employment legislation of recent years.
However, before we know how closely the final regulations resemble the draft regulations, we will have to await the outcome of the consultation period, which ended on October 17.
The regulations may be a year away, but employers should start preparing for the changes now.
Age discrimination touches on every aspect of the employment relationship, including recruitment, promotion, dismissal, retirement and pay, terms and conditions.
The regulations will affect all businesses, large and small, and apply to employees, self-employed people, contract workers and those receiving vocational training.
The draft regulations introduce concepts of direct and indirect age discrimination, victimisation, harassment and discrimination after employment, which are in line with the existing strands of discrimination legislation.
However, unlike other strands of discrimination, direct age discrimination can be "objectively justified" in the same way as indirect age discrimination, although the DTI has made it clear that the test of objective justification will not be an easy one to satisfy.
This means that employers will not be able to treat any worker, young or old, less favourably in terms of recruitment and training or promotion opportunities unless the less favourable treatment is objectively justified.
To avoid claims or to be able to defend claims successfully, all employers need to conduct a detailed review of their policies, procedures and practices to remove any discriminatory effects.
This will involve reviewing job advertisements, employment contracts and handbooks, application forms and redundancy and retirement procedures. …