Grey Areas on Age Laws – ICT Firms Beware!

New research from international law firm Eversheds shows that employers remain confused about the specific requirements of new laws on age discrimination, with many taking the decision to retain practices that would fall foul of the new regulations, which were introduced on October the 1st.

The research finds that only 25% of telcos and IT companies believe that they have a significant risk of a claim compared to 40% of non-high tech employers who believe that they are at risk from the recent changes in the law.

HR experts, specialising in telecommunications at Eversheds warn that these changes could significantly affect the increasingly high-tech industry.

Annelise Tracy Phillips, a telecommunications and human resources partner at Eversheds says: “The changes in the law look set to have a major impact on business , and not just in its recruitment and employment practices.”

Annelise continues: “Many Tech Companies project a brand image which is designed to appeal to youthful and image conscious consumers. An older job applicant who is un-successful in the recruitment process could point to that image as evidence that the real reason for the decision not to appoint was their age. The claimant’s case could be even easier to prove if the overall age demographic of the recruiting company is not representative of the demographic of the working population. Successful claims could give rise to unlimited awards of compensation.”

Annelise adds: “Lessons can be learnt from the USA where age discrimination rules have been in force for a number of years. US-based companies generally ensure that their external brand image is more representative of the general population. UK companies could learn a lot from the US experience.

There is a lack of guidance in many areas of the new legislation and the findings from the research, which was conducted by Eversheds during the last two weeks among HR directors and senior managers give cause for concern.

The feedback from businesses on how they plan to tackle recruitment under the new laws is particularly worrying. Only 58% of the respondents said they have trained managers involved in the recruitment process on the implications of the new laws. Around one third still plan to include a minimum period of experience in job adverts, while a quarter of employers will continue to ask for a date of birth on application forms.

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