TRAVEL employees and job applicants will have new rights against age discrimination from October 1 in what is described as one of the biggest changes in employment law for decades.
But lawyers warn many small employers are unaware of the scope of the new law, and a failure to comply could lead to a tribunal.
Head of employment law at solicitors Mace and Jones Martin Edwards said: “The changes are possibly the most dramatic since laws on sex and race discrimination were introduced. The pitfalls of failing to comply are severe.”
The legislation, contained in the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations, 2006:
- Bans age discrimination in recruitment, promotion and training.
- Bans contractual retirement ages below 65, except where justified for reasons unrelated to age – although women may still choose to retire at 60 if they wish.
- Requires employers to inform staff in writing six to 12 months in advance of a 65th birthday that they have the right to
continue working beyond 65.
- Extends rights to claim unfair dismissal or redundancy to those over 65.
- Requires employers to consider staff requests to work beyond 65.
As a consequence, firms should avoid using language that could suggest they intend to discriminate in job adverts.
Mace and Jones partner Mark Hatfield said: “Don’t advertise for someone ‘experienced’ or ‘mature’ or suggest a job would suit someone ‘young and dynamic’.
“Make sure the retirement age in contracts is 65, and introduce a flag system to warn that an employee is six to 12 months away from their 65th birthday.”
The minimum wage will also rise to £5.35 an hour for adults, £4.45 for 18-21 year-olds, and £3.30 for those aged 16-17.