Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Age discrimination regulations

It is important that members are fully aware of the implications of the new Age Discrimination Regulations before they take effect in October.

The new regulations are meant to prevent unjustified age discrimination in employment and redundancy. Employers will no longer be able to use age as a factor in recruitment (young or old) and the age at which employers can require a person to retire will increase to 65.

Attention has mainly focused on the retirement issue, and it will be important for schools and colleges that have a retirement age lower than age 65 to amend their contracts.

However there are also regulations that apply to payments for seniority. In principle, payments that differentiate on length of service may not continue for a scale extending longer than five years.

However, there are various let-out clauses that cover loyalty, motivation and experience, which should mean that existing practices can continue where there is demonstrable evidence that these qualities are in fact rewarded by the scale.

There is also a clause that allows, as a justification, planning to achieve a balance in the age profile of staff.

The fact that female applicants for senior posts tend in general to be older than male applicants because of family commitments has in the past suggested that age discrimination could be an indirect form of sex discrimination.

We will not know how this will be resolved until there have been some cases tested in court.

More information on the regulations can be found at www.direct.gov.uk/employment/employees/discriminationatwork

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