Long-term service 'threatened by age discrimination laws'

28-09-2006

Long-term employees of some businesses are being cheated of the service loyalty benefits to which they are eligible because of new age discrimination laws coming into force next week, an elderly employment organisation has warned.

The Age and Employment Network (TAEN), which co-ordinates the activities of 250 member organisations helping elderly people find work in later life, says it is receiving large numbers of phone calls from employees who face the removal of service benefits.

Keith Frost, a spokesperson for TAEN, has condemned the "bogus" use of exemptions contained in the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 by "unscrupulous employers".

"It's true that the regulations only give an automatic exemption for employee benefits based on up to five years of service - although there is a measure of flexibility in how that service is measured," Mr Frost said.

"However, it should not be very difficult for an employer who already gives additional benefits for long service beyond that to be able to maintain them. The regulations require a much lower 'test' for whether an employer is justified in offering them."

Businesses will have to comply with the new age discrimination laws by ensuring that they do not discriminate against people of any age on the grounds of how old they are.

A wide area is covered by the new laws, including forced retirement after the age of 65, precise guidelines about when businesses can forcibly retire employees and procedural rules about recruitment practices.

The regulations will come into force next Monday.


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