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Age discrimination law

I'm going to propose a qualified welcome to the new law on age discrimination in the work place. In general I'm in favour - but I cannot agree with the cutoff at age 65, and I fear the extra red tape and potential effect of a sue-happy employee (or prospective employee) or two on a business.

Both Lisa and I can look back at our employment history and say "age discrimination" against instances in our past.

"You were too young to be promoted to the new technical support manager job, Graham, even though you were the best candidate. Some of the other people who were also in line to be promoted to the job were much older, and we felt that whilst you could report to one of them, they would find it hard to report to you." So I was told by a good friend who had been a part of the selection process, many years later after we had both moved on. "We want to be a young team - it's age rather than experience that's important now" to Lisa.

Look at us. We both took advantage of the new opportunities offered elsewhere and moved on fairly quickly to somewhere where our age wasn't a barrier, so not big / long term issue. By the ethos of the new law should make such reasoning, which has been pretty standard up to now, unacceptable in this country.

As it happens, I'm seeing a man about a job this afternoon. It could have equally been a woman that I was seeing; in fact, the role we're filling might traditionally have been a woman's. I think I know his religious and ethnic background - "so what". I'm pretty sure he'll not turn out to be registered disabled, but that wouldn't matter. I am required by the British Government to check that he's allowed to work - which means that I must see some proof that he's a EU citizen or has an appropriate visa; yes, THAT is legalised and required discrimination! As to his age - at this stage I would be guessing; no doubt some piece of paper or other may give me a date of birth if he turns out to be the man for the job. A suggestion on TV on Friday was that it's going to be illegal even to ask for "10 years experience" now as that has age implications.

So what criteria can will I use? The ability to fulfill the role we have on offer, and to fulfill it well. Period. That's it. But it's a much wider criterion than you might think. It includes the actual minute by minute, hour by hour tasks and achieving those well. It involves the excellent customer skills, ability to think on [his] feet and handle situations that arise that are growing every so more important in all our roles these days. It needs him to be able to be reliably with us to work when (as in this case) virtually every task will be required at a certain time. And it calls for a personality that will fit in well with us and our other team members.

I fell asleep to a TV show last night in which the applicants for some roles were being selected out in groups. There was the 16 to 25 group and the over 25s. Were they showing that on 30th September because today - 1st October - it's no longer legal to do it that way?
(written 2006-10-01, updated 2006-10-03)

 
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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