Employers, already buckling under the weight of legislation, will now have to address issues around ageism. Concerns about being sued for dismissing anyone over the age of 40, and fear of asking for evidence of experience from anyone under the age of 25 could create more prejudices than already exist naturally.
It is inevitable that with new age discrimination laws will come a wave of tribunals. The new legislation comes into force in October 2006. Anyone over the age of 40 who is fired beyond this date may consider that age played a part in the decision.
Unfortunately the validity of the claim is not the key issue for most small employers. They will stand to lose time and money going through the legal process whichever way the judge rules.
BUSINESS FORUM COMMENT
This legislation could be just another reason for small businesses not to expand but to focus on using freelancers and consultants rather than taking on the responsibility of employing people.
This in turn could lead to an increase in unemployment by not creating as many job opportunities for the many people who are not cut out for freelancing.
And there is another interesting sting in the tail. The legislation will exclude people over 65 as they are over the default statutory retirement age. These ironically are the people who could most benefit from legal protection.
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