Age-net Takes A Look at the Best Senior-friendly Employers in the UK
Unfortunately, in recent years there have been many unfair instances of older workers being fired or not being considered for jobs which would perfectly suit them, simply because of their age. In a world in which you are unable to discriminate on gender, sexuality, race or appearance, why should employers continue to get away with ageist practices? If you are turned down for a job simply because of your age then this counts as ageist recruitment and is against the law. Discrimination laws are in place to prevent this kind of practice from occurring, but unfortunately, firms tend to find a way around the laws.Until a few years ago, employers could completely refuse to even consider a candidate for a position if they were aged 65 or above, or if they were above the firm’s standard age of retirement. The Equality Act of 2010 abolished the ‘default’ retirement age which was in place before and so employers can no longer use age as a reason not to hire a candidate for a position.
It is illegal to include an age limit in an advertisement for a job, and they are not allowed to use words or phrases which insinuate that they are seeking a particular age of worker. This means that writing things like ‘enthusiastic, lively young person’ or ‘recent graduate’ in the ‘what we are looking for’ section of a job positing should not be allowed. Asking for your date of birth is standard practice to check that you are over 18 and to see if you are over 21 as this can affect rates of pay. Your date of birth can be used internally to ensure that the company attracts a wide range of applicants of different ages, but it cannot be considered as part of the recruitment process.
If you suspect ageist practices have been used against you in a job application, you can download a form from the Home Office which can help to ascertain the severity of what has happened and the correct course of action to follow. Unfortunately, it can often be very difficult to prove that a company has discriminated against you because of your age as they will often give other reasons for choosing not to hire you.
Recently, BT, Centrica and Domestic & General Services Limited have all been awarded prizes in recognition of their age-friendly policies promoting both the retention of existing older workers and the hiring of new ones. The awards were distributed but the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) which aims to recognise companies based outside of the United States which demonstrate either innovations in human resources or new practices which directly address issues affecting employees over 50.
Nominees for awards given out by the AARP are scrutinised at various stages of the recruitment process, they take into consideration recruitment practices, training opportunities, career development, education opportunities, specialist facilities in the workplace, alternative work options, retirement options, heath benefits and job sharing opportunities. All of these areas are examined in detail to see how age-friendly a company is across all employment processes.
As there are currently so many companies which are not doing their best to protect their older workers and hire more of them, it is refreshing to see that three UK firms appeared in the list of 10 winners. The workforce as a whole is ageing as retirement ages are pushed further and further back, so the question of ageist policies is becoming more and more relevant and important.
BT was praised for its retirement plan, which clearly defines the contributions needed and provides both a pension and life benefits. They also offer employees flexible working hours, so that those moving towards retirement can choose to make it a gradual process. There is also the option to work remotely for most positions; this means that even the act of going into the office every day can be phased out to help make the transition to retirement run even more smoothly.
Centrica has been recognised as an age-friendly employer by the AARP for the third year running. It has also won awards from the Employers Forum on Age for the way in which it treats and recruits older workers. They have a great diversity policy and aim to make their workplace a truly inclusive one. The company is committed to supporting its workers all of the way through their careers and therefore looks after its older workers well, with flexible retirement packages, pension plans, job sharing opportunities and support wherever they might need it.
Domestic and General Services
D & G have an award winning pension plan which allows employees to save whilst also making contributions on behalf of the company at the same time. Loyalty is very much rewarded at D & G, so workers who have been working there for longer are given more benefits. On their 10th anniversary of starting a job at the firm, D & G will give each employee a bonus 2 weeks holiday for that year. It is policies like these, designed to reward people for staying on at the company well into their older years, which have won it awards.
Sainsbury’s regularly promotes the recruitment of older workers and often releases information about the breakdown of the ages of the people it employs. The latest figures show that they currently have 1,400 people employed up and down the country who are over 70 and a total of 11,100 who are over the age of 60. Their eldest employee is 94.
On the whole, it seems that things are moving in the right direction, and that more and more companies are being recognised in the UK for their commitment to age-friendly practices. B & Q claims that over 25% of the employees working in its stores are over the age of 50 and that its oldest employee in the country has turned 95. Nationwide was allegedly the first company to introduce policies promoting flexible retiring back in 2001. McDonalds has also won an award for committing to recognise the contribution of all staff members, whatever their age might be.