This blog was contributed by Chris Ball, Chief Executive of TAEN – The Age and Employment Network
1st October – UK Older People’s Day and the UN International Day of Older Persons – saw the launch of a petition against age discrimination in the labour market. With age discrimination in employment made unlawful in the UK since 2006, it may come as a surprise to learn that this is needed, yet age discrimination in the job recruitment process seems to be a common experience.
The problem is that age discrimination in recruitment is very hard to prove. So long as we have not eradicated ageist attitudes these can be expressed in the hidden, sometimes unconscious, always irrational prejudices of recruiters.
So age discrimination remains the common experience of older jobseekers. In TAEN’s Survey of Jobseekers Aged 50+, carried out earlier this year, 83 per cent said that recruiters saw them as being “too old” while 72 per cent saw them as being “too experienced or over-qualified.”
Although it is early days, the petition has been warmly supported by many individuals and organisations. Within forty-eight hours over 200 people had signed it. Many more are needed however, if the petition is to make an impact.
What is so remarkable about people working into their seventies or later if they wish? Already we have over a million people working beyond the age of 65. The Government, of course, is seeking to increase this number by pushing up the age at which state pension becomes an entitlement. How disastrous it will be if more and more older people want or need to work and yet the labour market remains age biased against them.
At the moment many employers and the recruitment industry collaborate informally in feeding the age prejudices of people taking hiring decisions. There is huge kidology taking place with all the decent people saying, “But of course, we would never discriminate unfairly.”
Whether you are seeking a job yourself, know someone who is doing so or are not interested in paid work, it remains the case that many more people nowadays choose paid work as a good way to supplement their pension. Opportunities need to be open to them – and why shouldn’t they be?
To support TAEN’s campaign to ban age discrimination against older jobseekers, sign our petition.