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The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 - Comes Into Force On 1 October 2006

28/9/2006

On October 1 2006, new laws will come into force to protect workers from age discrimination. The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations will make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees, trainees or job seekers because of their age and ensure that all workers, regardless of age, have the same rights in terms of training and promotion.

What the regulations will cover

The regulations will cover direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation; and will include all workers and those taking part in or applying for employment-related training including further and higher education courses.

A national default retirement age of 65 will be introduced. Employers will no longer be allowed to force someone to retire before then - unless objectively justified where there is a genuine occupational requirement. For example, the role of a character in a play or film, or the serving of alcohol. The test is not an easy one, but it means that in some circumstances there may be practices, policies or procedures that have an age related aspect to them, but it will be proportionate and legitimate to do so. It will be necessary for employers to provide evidence if challenged; assertions alone will not be enough.

All employees will have the right to request to work beyond the age of 65 or any other retirement age (if there is one) set by the company, and employers will have a duty to consider, although not to accept, such a request. This will involve an employee meeting with their employer to discuss the request. An employee will have a right of appeal if they are dissatisfied with the outcome of the meeting. This policy will be reviewed in 2011.

Employers must give at least six months notice to employees about their intended retirement date so that individuals can plan better for retirement, and be confident that "retirement" is not being used as cover for unfair dismissal.

There will no longer be an upper age limit for unfair dismissal and redundancy. Older workers will have the same rights as younger workers to claim unfair dismissal or receive a redundancy payment, unless there is a genuine retirement.

The regulations will allow pay and non-pay benefits to continue which depend on length of service requirements of 5 years or less or which recognise and reward loyalty and experience and motivate staff.

Age limits will be removed for statutory sick pay, statutory maternity pay, statutory adoption pay and statutory paternity pay, so that the legislation for all four statutory payments applies in exactly the same way.

Lower and upper age limits in the statutory redundancy scheme will be removed, but will leave the current age-banded system in place.

The regulations will provide exemptions for many age-based rules in occupational pension schemes. The regulations will not affect the age at which people can claim their state pension. Update: Additional two months for pension schemes to adjust to age discrimination rules

What to do

Employers will be required to revise their recruitment and retention policies, as they will no longer be allowed to use age as a consideration in employment, promotion or retirement decisions. They must also update their equality policy to include age, and all staff should be made aware of the implications of the regulations.

For more information and leafelts see -
Age Positive

To see the full text of the new act see -
The Employment Equality Age Regulations 2006

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