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Tuesday, 4 June, 2002, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
UK 'targets age discrimination'
Graduates
Some employers aim to recruit recent graduates only
The UK government is thinking of wielding European Union legislation to fight age discrimination, according to an article in the Financial Times.

Older workers
The government wants old people to work longer
"People shouldn't be consigned to the scrap heap, whatever their age," employment relations minister Alan Johnson said in an interview with the business paper.

The government is believed to be considering outlawing job advertisements which discriminate against older people.

"There's a feeling that people over 50 are getting the rough end of the stick, and that people get round this kind of discrimination by advertising for 'recently qualified graduates'," Mr Johnson said.

Clashes expected

Moves to make it more difficult for employers to discriminate against those over 50 could bring about a confrontation with business, the FT predicted.

The Confederation of British Industry has said that it may be justifiable in some cases to treat people differently because of their age.

Many in business fear advertising restrictions could threaten their deliberate recruitment of young people who have just completed their studies.

Mr Johnson said this would be unlikely, acknowledging that "there will be cases where it's necessary to recruit graduates."

Some business people are also concerned about the government's plans to allow employees to work well past their normal retirement age.

Mr Johnson suggested that the government would shy away from banning companies from setting compulsory retirement ages.

Improved productivity

The government's planned attack on ageism is not merely a move to mollify trade unions.

A recent report by the Employers Forum on Age has put ageism's cost to the economy of at 31bn a year.

As such, it would also be an efficient way of closing the productivity gap with the rest of the world,

The UK is duty bound to implement by 2006 an EU directive which outlaws age discrimination.

See also:

15 Jan 02 | Health
27 Mar 01 | Health
16 Apr 00 | Health
03 Nov 00 | Health
15 Jan 02 | Business
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