Older workers sacked in pre-emptive strike

Complaints of older workers being sacked have increased dramatically in recent weeks, reports Age Concern, which it attributes to a preemptive strike by employers to avoid age discrimination laws.

Submitted by Nemo on September 11, 2006

"We have seen a rapid and sharp increase in the number of calls from older employees who are very, very concerned, many of whom are angry," said Michelle Mitchell from Age Concern. Gordon Lishman, director-general of Age Concern, added: "We firmly believe that a number of employers are guilty of getting rid of their older workers because they are deemed 'too old' just before the new age discrimination laws come into effect. That someone's ability to do a job should come down to their age and not their skills and experience is scandalous."

The new age discrimination laws, due to come into effect on October 1st, will make it illegal for employers to force workers to retire before the age of 65.

Arpita Dutt, a specialist in discrimination law at the London solicitors Russell Jones & Walker, also reports an increase in redundancies among older workers. "We can find no legitimate conduct, performance or redundancy reason for their dismissal, so there is a strong inference that it is likely to be on grounds of age," she said, adding: "In short, a ruthless employer may consider it cheaper to dismiss an employee before October 1 than after."

Age Concern, which supports the new legislation, also claims that this practice is not confined to the private sector, and has previously said: "Too many professional, skilled older workers in the public and health sectors are telling us that they are being forced out of their jobs at 65, even though they still have a lot to contribute. These organisations should be leading the way in ending this unwarranted discrimination."