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Age bias ‘wastes talents of millions’

THE talents of millions of older workers are being “wasted” due to age discrimination and “outdated” employment practices, a committee of MPs warned today.

The Commons women and equalities committee said that both the government and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) must work harder to combat age discrimination.

A report on older people in employment, published by the committee in July, concluded that the government and EHRC were failing to properly enforce the Equality Act 2010 on the issues of ageism, prejudice and unconscious bias.

However, the committee found that the response from both bodies has been disappointing and expressed “surprise” that neither the EHRC nor government has pursued potential cases of age discrimination more thoroughly.

“While the government does not specifically reject any recommendations, it does not fully accept any, and those actions to which it does commit lack detail and timeframes,” the MPs said.

“The response from the EHRC rejects the recommendation to develop enforcement action on age bias in recruitment on the basis that it is in the process of setting its strategic priorities and consulting on a draft strategic plan.”

The committee urged the EHRC and the government to further research the realities of age discrimination and “take action” to ensure the public sector is living up to its equality duties with regard to age.

And TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Discrimination against older workers has no place in modern workplaces. It hurts both individuals and the UK economy.

“Government intervention is needed to tackle age discrimination, ensuring that older workers who want to work can do so.”

The EHRC claimed that it had already “significantly stepped up” its enforcement activities.

A spokesman said: “We have taken and will continue to take robust enforcement action, using all of our statutory powers, to tackle unlawful discrimination and ensure that no-one is excluded from the workplace.”
 

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