Outlaw age discrimination urges report

LEGISLATION to outlaw age discrimination in employment is recommended by a report from the Law Society's employment law committee.

The report, 'Age discrimination and employment law', said persuasion and voluntary action had a part to play against ageism, but “lasting change will only come with legislation”.

Janet Gaymer, committee chair and partner of City firm Simmons & Simmons, said there was widespread agreement that age discrimination wasted experience, talent and money, but there had been disagreement over the best way to handle the issue.

“Our report shows clearly that legislation would be both a workable and effective approach to resolving these problems,” she said.

The committee's report was prepared by a working party chaired by Harris Rosenblatt & Kramer partner Barry Mordsley.

“The proposal is that age discrimination should be outlawed in all areas of employment, from recruitment to dismissal, and ageist advertisements should also be unlawful,” said Mordsley.

The report said it was important to avoid the failings of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944, which “fell into disrepute because it was rarely enforced”.

It added: “The remedies under the 1944 Act were not obtainable by an aggrieved individual but had to be obtained on his or her behalf by a government agency.”

It concluded that new legislation could be based on existing laws on sex and race discrimination, with claims made to industrial tribunals.