Pensions Minister “determined” to tackle age discrimination

Steve Webb, the Pensions Minister, has said that he will strive to tackle age discrimination in the workplace.

Mr Webb made his commitment on 3 September 2013 when launching a report by the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) which has established that European Governments are keen to encourage higher levels of engagement from older workers.

According to the report “Working Longer: An EU perspective” there are 13.5 million job vacancies in the UK over the next decade. However, in contrast there will only be some 7 million young people expected to leave education and seeking employment.

The report urges EU members to maximise the potential of older workers. Proposals have included “skilling up” an older workforce, supporting more older women in work and improving health.

It logically concludes that older workers have been hit equally hard by the recession as younger workers and that Governments should focus on tackling age discrimination and creating age-appropriate jobs for an older workforce.

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees, job-seekers and trainees because of their age. The Act covers direct and indirect discrimination, victimisation and harassment.

Speaking at the launch of the research, Pensions Minister Steve Webb commented:  “There are more older people in work than ever before, despite difficult economic conditions. Back in 2011 we took action so that older people were no longer discriminated against by abolishing the default retirement age.

“I am determined that more employers will make the most of the talents and experience of older workers.”

David Sinclair, Assistant Director of Policy and Communications at ILC-UK said: “Europe’s economy is driven by the skills and talents of its people. As our society ages, it will therefore be increasingly important to make the most of the potential of older workers. Yet few European Governments have got to grips with the challenges of an older workforce. We must not however, pitch one generation against another. European policymakers must focus on tackling the barriers employability across the life course. Flexible working and opportunities for people of all ages to develop their skills are vital. We must tackle ageism whilst also offering older people the opportunity to retire gradually. Governments across Europe must better evaluate initiatives and share their successes with their colleagues”.