MPs have warned that too little is being done to enforce age discrimination law, with more than a million people over 50 unemployed but willing to work if given the opportunity.
An inquiry conducted by the Women and Equalities Committee has called on the Government to do more to combat prejudice, unconscious bias and casual ageism in the workplace, claiming the current situation is “alarming and unacceptable”.
MPs recommend audits on the age profile of workforces, following the introduction of gender pay gap reporting to challenge discrimination, to ensure the talents of those aged 50 or older are not being wasted.
“It is unacceptable that the nation is wasting the talents of more than one million people aged over 50 who are out of work but would be willing to work if the right opportunity arose,” the committee’s report states.
“People in later life are often playing many different roles in society, but those who wish to work should not face the current barriers of discrimination, bias and outdated employment practices.
“Too little is being done to enforce the law. Neither the Government or the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), with its considerable enforcement powers, are intervening in the recruitment sector where so much of the evidence demonstrates unlawful ways of working.
“The public sector struggles to retain older workers when it should be leading the way, but the EHRC is not investigating whether the public sector equality duty is being met. We want it to do so.”
The report recommends that recruitment agencies accept greater responsibility by collecting data on where older workers are being excluded and developing a plan of action to remove discrimination from the recruitment process.
It also urges a mandatory approach to flexible working, adding: “We recommend that flexible working be the default from the time jobs are advertised onwards. Many older workers often take on a range of caring responsibilities.”
Committee chair Maria Miller said: “Age discrimination in the workplace is a serious problem, as many older people have discovered.
“Yet despite it being unlawful for more than a decade, the scale and lack of enforcement uncovered by our inquiry are both alarming and totally unacceptable.”
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said age discrimination was “still rife”, with 36 per cent of 55-64-year-olds feeling like they’ve been disadvantaged or treated negatively because they were perceived as being older.
How can Gotelee help?
If you think you have been discriminated against at work, get in touch.
Our team of specialist employment solicitors have considerable experience in dealing with sensitive issues of this kind in a tactful and understanding way. We can help you through the grievance process and provide advice and support every step of the way.
Our early intervention may mean you can resolve the issue and continue in your job. Alternatively, we can help you pursue your case at an employment tribunal to ensure you are properly compensated. We’ll guide you through the complexities of making a claim so that you achieve the best outcome as quickly as possible.
To find out more, visit us at one of our offices in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Hadleigh and Woodbridge or call us on 01473 298126.