Busting the myths about the new age regulations

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date: 28 September 2006

embargo: For immediate release

With new laws coming into force this Sunday banning ageism in the workplace, the TUC has produced a ten-point online myth-buster in an attempt to debunk some of the myths surrounding the new age regulations.

From 1 October, no matter how young or old an individual is, workers will have new rights to challenge unfair age-related treatment that they come across either in their jobs or when applying for work.

As a result of laws passed in Europe, anyone at work who feels that their age has prevented them from being employed or promoted, is adversely affecting their pay, pension or holiday entitlements, or their retirement options, may find comfort in the new age discrimination regulations.

Some of the age-related myths exploded on workSMART, the TUC's working life website, include:

  • The regulations only prevent ill-treatment against older workers. Not true, says workSMART. Young people entering the labour market often face jibes relating to their relative lack of experience or immaturity, and workers who look younger than they are sometimes complain their youthful looks prevent them from being taken more seriously. The regulations provide protection for everyone at work, from the youngest to the oldest employee.
  • The regulations mean an end to the differing age-based rates for the national minimum wage. Again, not true, says workSMART. The regulations allow for the three different rates (for adults aged 22 and over and from this Sunday payable at £5.35 an hour, at £4.45 for 18-21 year olds, and at £3.30 for 16 and 17 year olds) to continue.
  • Employers won't be allowed to refuse to employ someone over the age of 65. Incorrect says workSMART. Unless a company has set an earlier retirement day, workers can be asked to retire at 65. They can of course work on past retirement, but only if their employers agree to their request to do so. For people seeking work, under the regulations, as soon as an individual turns 64 and six months, an employer can quite legitimately refuse to take them on because of their age.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'These new regulations should put an end to the blight of age discrimination which has made job hunting and career development difficult for the many workers who had the misfortune to work for employers with ageist attitudes. From now on, employers will need to prove that job candidates are being recruited on their ability and experience alone, and will have to banish ageist banter from the office and the staff canteen.

'Any new rules seeking to protect workers of whatever age, be they 16 or 106, were by definition going to be complex. Our age regulation myth-buster aims to help both individuals and their employers understand their new rights and responsibilities under the new law and show how it can be used to rid UK workplaces of the scourge of ageism.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- The ten point age regulation myth-buster can be found at www.worksmart.org.uk/agemyths

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

Contacts:

Media enquiries: Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248; M: 07778 158175; E: media@tuc.org.uk

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