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Last Updated: Friday, 29 September 2006, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
Readers' panel: Age discrimination
As of 1 October 2006 new laws against age discrimination will allow employees to work past the age of 60, potentially to 65 and beyond.

It will be illegal to discriminate against age, as it is for gender or race, in recruitment or promotion. Employment lawyers predict that this could bring the biggest changes seen in the workplace for 30 years.

Here our panel of readers discuss the issues of ageism in employment, and the impact the legislation will have on them and the generations to come.

What are your experiences of age discrimination and how do you expect the change in the law to affect the workplace?

Trina Fitzalan-Howard
Trina
46, Nottinghamshire

Gerry Jackson
Gerry
71, Swindon

Annie Gueniat
Annie
55, Geneva

Jacquelyn Bastien
Jacquelyn
60, Derby

Dorothy Parker
Dorothy
64, Northampton

Games console control pad
'James'
36, Midlands

TRINA FITZALAN-HOWARD, 46, Nottinghamshire

Trina Fitzalan-Howard
Trina worries employers will still find ways to discriminate against age
I have felt discriminated against at work, absolutely. I am 46.

I have been commended at the highest levels of my institution but from my 41st birthday I started getting the interview but not the job.

Now I can't get the interview.

When I have been de-briefed on my application, the last time, I was told they didn't believe my long list of achievements and qualifications and I must have made them up!

I have no intention of applying for any more jobs in my institution. I am not going to fight discrimination until I am out of options and I don't think I am quite there yet.

I fear, under this law, there will be new, more subtle and non-provable ways to make sure either older people aren't brought on board or are discouraged from applying.

Absurd pre-requisites for employment may discriminate against people who gained qualifications years ago and would require re-training. I see a growth in pre-application testing as part of the weeding-out process.

I foresee contracts of work becoming cyclical; say, fixed and close ended every three to five years.

I have no intention of going quietly!
With sexism and racism still rife in our institutions, what chance has ageism of being consigned to the dustbin? How will it be monitored and what penalties would institutions face?

I don't want to be poor, old and infirmed when I retire - who does? I don't mind the idea of working into my 70s or even 80s but not the grind of a 9-to-5 job, nor the commute or the office politics.

I like the idea of the grand world tour if I can afford it but sabbaticals are for academics and not for regular working folk. I have a long list of interests and hobbies and activities which would fill several retirements. I have no intention of going quietly!

JACQUELYN BASTIEN, 60, DERBY

Jacquelyn Bastien
Jacquelyn thinks too much emphasis is put on youth
I recently retired at 60, after working for 38 years, paying all my taxes and national insurance, and I sympathise with all who have to work until at least 68.

I also paid into a company pension scheme, but that has not given me an awful lot to live on.

If people wish to retire at 60, or work beyond that, they should be allowed to do so. The problem here is whether they have a choice.

Redundancy should not be based upon age. Neither should redundancy be the new word for retirement.

I felt discriminated against because of my age, indirectly. I overheard comments by younger colleagues and, on occasions, by management, with reference to age, which could sometimes be very frustrating.

There seems to be a tenet today that age is everything and you are only capable of doing a good job if you are young.

On the contrary, I think that experience in the workplace certainly outweighs age.

If you discriminate through age, how will we, in any sector, teach the next generation?

I looked forward to retirement
All knowledge cannot be gained from text books and we have incorporated new technology into our employment, more than most, computer systems for example and ever changing working practices.

I looked forward to retirement and although knew things would be very tight financially for me, could not continue to work at the same pace.

If we all have to work until our late 60s, how will this affect employment for those leaving school and who wish to work instead of going onto further education?

GERRY JACKSON, 71, SWINDON

Gerry Jackson
Gerry won't let his recent redundancy stop him from working
I am 71 years young and have worked for the same company for 17 years, six years over retirement age, but because this new law is coming in they have decided to retire me and others.

The company had no problem with what I did. I was a courier.

I had asked the previous managing director: "How long can I work for?"

I was told that, as long as I could do the job, I could work for ever.

Now they are frightened, I feel I was kept on for convenience, and I'm aggrieved at the way it was done.

I also think employers are using this new law to get rid of the older employees because of the implications.

If they had waited they would have a problem. Possibly, I could have taken them to court, or to ACAS.

I feel because of the change in the law coming in they have decided to retire me and others, and get younger people to do the job.

I enjoyed my job and cannot sit home all day
Young people may be exploited by this change. If they can get a 25-year-old to do my job they don't have to pay them so much.

This is wrong. I enjoyed my job and cannot sit home all day with nothing to do. I would still prefer to continue working, and meeting people.

In fact, I am seriously considering starting my own business in airport transfers, taking families to Luton, on their way to Barbados. I love driving and have been doing so since I was 18 years of age.

DOROTHY PARKER, 64, NORTHAMPTON

Dorothy Parker
Dorothy will use her experience to help her successor
I am 65 on the 9th November this year and should technically retire, however I will continue to work next year on a part-time basis.

I will be switching to part-time, two or three days a week, as soon as I turn 65.

I will be using my skills to assist the Management Accountant whereas before I was the Accounts Supervisor with the day to day running of the department.

The work will be very much the same as before except I am stepping down from my position (my choice) and handing over to my successor whom I have been training for the last year.

I will be on hand with any help or back up, and the benefit of my experience attained over the last 40 years, should the need arise.

I will certainly be working after I am 65, I look forward to it, keeping interested in life and not vegetating.

This will have two benefits. I can supplement my pension and I will not be suddenly set adrift with hours in the day I cannot fill.

I am also fortunate to be working for a company that values its workers, whatever their age, from 16 years upwards. There are a few over retirement age still working.

Younger employees keep you on your toes with their innovative ideas
The company recognises the skills we bring and are willing to remunerate these skills to keep them in a good working environment where their opinion matters.

This has been the case for the last decade and since the change of ownership from English to French.

Though younger employees still have a lot to learn, they keep you on your toes with their innovative and stimulating ideas.

ANNIE GUENIAT, 55, GENEVA

Annie Gueniat
Annie wants her government to do more for those over 45
I have been living in Switzerland for over 30 years. I am British married to a Swiss so I have dual nationality.

The chances of finding a job after the age of 45 and up are so slim that the word "impossible" is not such an exaggeration.

The situation here is that if you are able to stay in your job you work until 64 as a woman and 65 as a man.

Advertisements for jobs in the press nearly always specify age or state something like two years' experience. This is not illegal.

My personal experience is that I do not put my age on my C.V. when presenting it to employment agencies.

When I tell them my age, they pretend to be matter of fact but at the same time I can see their eyes nearly popping out of their heads! It is compulsory to give your age.

Labour laws in Switzerland are similar to the United States, that is you can hire and fire, but unlike the US, there is suspicion of someone who has been fired.

At the moment I am managing an association which is linked to the technology licensing industry.

The association may wind up soon and so I am looking for another job, similar to this one, and would consider offers that don't take into account my experience.

We hope to pressure the Swiss Government to change attitudes
In my search for jobs I have come across discrimination, so with a group of people all aged 45 and over we have founded an association to create a strong voice and we hope to pressure the Swiss government to change attitudes.

This may prove to be very difficult as Switzerland is a federal state and change comes about through direct democracy.

Probably, the Government will recommend that a petition is organised by those concerned. This takes ages.

Populations in western countries are aging and pension funds are strained, therefore it makes sense to maintain people in work for as long as is possible.

'JAMES', 36, MIDLANDS

I would much rather keep my identity concealed.

At 36, I am among some of the "older" employees working for a computer games company. The average age of an employee is under 30.

This law will make a difference for me. My current contract forces retirement from this company at 55, so I am delighted that the law will now make this illegal and void.

However, I question whether it will make any difference in gaining employment as opposed to retaining it.

The preference is nearly always to employ new graduates, because they are cheaper to employ and slightly less savvy in the workplace regarding their rights.

They're just excited to have "that job" and will work themselves stupid for less pay.

Seeking employment elsewhere in this industry might get progressively harder
Colleagues have expressed "surprise" at my age. While this might be in good humour, it's obviously an issue, though I do not feel discriminated against.

I fear that unless I have progressed significantly within my career in terms of role, for example management, then seeking employment elsewhere in this industry might get progressively harder and harder in relation to age.

Also, because I'm older I have family responsibilities too, something younger staff sometimes can't empathise with.

I will always work - especially creatively. I think historically retirement meant winding down and a retirement from an active life, but I look forward to working on my terms.

I hope not to be forced to work because of a pension deficit. I'd resent that.






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