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Last Updated: Monday, 25 September 2006, 00:24 GMT 01:24 UK
'Millions unaware' of ageism laws
Commuters in the street
The UK is having to address when people should retire
Millions of UK workers are unaware of new ageism laws which come into force on 1 October, a survey suggests.

The Employers Forum on Age survey of 1,000 people aged over 16 found 50% did not know ageism in the workplace would be outlawed.

It also found 61% of respondents knew of cases of what they considered to be ageist behaviour where they worked.

And it found evidence that both young and old could lose out in areas such as pay and promotion because of their age.

Retire when?

A separate survey for the charity Help the Aged, published on Saturday, found that just 42% of 1,000 people surveyed knew that the law on age discrimination was about to change.

Will you take advantage of the new laws to work past 60?
Not sure
1669 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

"Ageism is endemic in our society and rife in our workplaces," said Sam Mercer, of the Employers Forum on Age.

"These attitudes need to be challenged and outlawed so that they become as unacceptable as sexism or racism.

"This legislation will help provide protection for people who feel that they have been discriminated against on grounds of their age."

One of the biggest changes that will be brought in under the new laws is that employers will not be able to impose compulsory retirement before 65.

At the moment many employers state that 60 is their standard retirement age.

'Job to do'

Whether or not compulsory retirement should be kept at the new level of 65, or be abolished altogether, will be formally reviewed by the government in 2011.

Even though a growing pensions crisis means that many people will have to work for longer, 25% of those aged between 55 and 64 who responded to the Help the Aged survey felt firms would not employ them beyond 65.

As an employer, there are more benefits to employing someone older
Duncan McDonald, Salisbury

According to the charity, the UK has "a serious job to do" in making sure that older workers realise that they can take action against employers who force them to retire before 65 or refuse them promotion or work because of their age.

"While the new regulations will make a difference, it's regrettable that the government has seen fit to continue to allow employers to force people to retire at 65," said Help the Aged spokeswoman Kate Jopling.

The laws will affect both the young and the old

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