The draft Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 were published yesterday as part of the launch of the "Coming of Age" consultation announced by Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

The new Regulations:

  • ban age discrimination in recruitment, promotion and training;
  • ban all retirement ages below 65 - except where objectively justified;
  • require employers to inform employees in writing, and at least 6 months in advance, of their intended retirement date in order to allow employees to plan for their retirement;
  • remove the current upper qualifying age for unfair dismissal and redundancy rights, giving older workers the same rights to claim unfair dismissal or receive a redundancy payment, unless there is a genuine retirement;
  • impose a duty on employers to consider an employee's request to continue working beyond retirement; and
  • include provisions relating to service related benefits and occupational pensions.

The regulations also remove the age limits for Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay and Statutory Paternity Pay. 

The DTI is embarking on a three-month consultation period, seeking comments on the draft Regulations and will also be taking steps to gauge stakeholder opinion on changes to the method of calculation of statutory redundancy payments. The consultation ends on 17 October 2005 with the legislation timetabled to come into force on 1 October 2006. It is hoped that more detailed guidance will also be issued before the 1 October deadline.

Many employers already recognise the benefits of employing both older and younger people. It will be important that employers work with the spirit, not just the letter of the law, however, in order to build up the real culture change needed to overcome discrimination.

Click here to access the draft Regulations

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