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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 July, 2003, 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK
Q&A: Age discrimination at work

The government has unveiled its proposals on banning age discrimination in the workplace. What are the current rules - and why do older workers need protection?

What is the current situation?

UK workers over 65 are not protected from unfair dismissal or eligible for statutory redundancy payments.

What about ageism?

Ageism at work is a massive issue for many older workers.

It can mean that workers in their forties are literally on the employment "scrap heap". They can not get a job, as they are considered too old by employers.

While discrimination on the grounds of race, gender and disability are banned, discrimination on the grounds of age is not, under current employment law.

Is there a fixed retirement age in the UK?

There is no fixed state retirement age in the UK. The state pension is paid to women from 60 onwards and men from 65.

This is not necessarily tied to the time that a person stops working. The Government will raise the age at which state pension is paid to women to 65, to be phased in gradually up until 2020.

At work, mandatory retirement ages are fixed by an employer, which states when its employees are expected to retire.

This usually coincides with the timing of a company's pension scheme, which is also known as the compulsory retirement age.

The government wants to make it easier for us to carry on working beyond 65.

In recent years, a small number of employers have become more flexible about the issue of a compulsory retirement age.

But many pension schemes do not permit workers to carry on beyond the compulsory retirement age.

The government also plans to scrap rules which prevent people from working part-time for the same firm and drawing their company pension.

How many people are affected?

Age Concern estimates that there are about a quarter of a million employees over the age of 65, but this figure is expected to grow as the population ages.

The government wants the UK to be more like the US, where it is the norm for people to work well into their seventies, or, combine retirement with part-time work.

However, while some people may choose to work beyond the traditional retirement age of 65, more people may be forced to opt for a combination of retirement and work.

This is because Britons are not saving enough for their retirements, while state and company pensions are being eroded.

People may find that the only way of plugging that gap in the future, is by working part-time in old age.




SEE ALSO:
Age discrimination to be outlawed
02 Jul 03  |  Business
Work longer, says EU
17 Mar 03  |  Business
Ageing: Europe's growing problem
11 Sep 02  |  Business


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