Ageism is last respectable prejudice - but must be overcome

'The abuse that Ming Campbell suffered because of his age 'would not have been tolerated on the grounds of gender, race, sexuality or disability' and ageism is the most common form of unfair discrimination at work', said TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, in a call for employers to fully use older workers and the Government to give older workers more choice about how and when they retire.
Giving the Life Academy annual lecture in London.

Brendan Barber said that two in five retired men and one in five retired women are leaving work earlier than expected and that a quarter of managers admit to discriminating on the basis of age. This is 'not just a terrible waste of experience and talent - but a story of lives unfulfilled and aspirations denied.'

Four policy approaches are required, he advised:

  • First there should be far more investment in training for older workers, which should be backed up with a right to retraining, with paid time off to learn new skills, supported where appropriate with subsidies for employers.
  • Second there should be a flexible approach to retirement that gives people the choice to work beyond state retirement age. 'Retirement should be less of a cliff-edge', so that 'all workers have the opportunity to ease into retirement by combining part-time work with a part-time pension.'
  • Third we should give everyone at work - young and old - the right to request flexible working, which would be particularly useful for grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren.
  • Fourthly we need to safeguard the health and well-being of the older workforce by allowing older workers to change job and calling on employers to make 'reasonable adjustments to jobs, backed by redeployment opportunities and proper investment in occupational health'.

There is a strong business case for these changes. Brendan Barber said: 'Older workers are an invaluable source of experience, expertise and crucially - in an ageing society - of market intelligence. Put simply, ageism - like any form of discrimination - is simply bad for business. No organisation will succeed over the longer term unless it nurtures the talents, knowledge and potential of all its workforce. That's why all employers - whether large or small, public or private, manufacturing or services - need to start getting their head round the idea of proactive age management.

Article provided by the Trade Union Council



Posted by, Asif Yusuf


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