With just over two years before workers can no longer be forced
to retire when they hit pension age, Ogier employment lawyer Daniel
Read says that employers need to start thinking now about how to
adapt to the change.
The Discrimination Law will be extended to cover age
discrimination as of 1 September this year, but an extra two years
have been given to allow employers time to rewrite policies and
review contracts in respect of retirement. At present, employees
can be effectively forced to retire when they reach pension age
without fear of unfair dismissal claims – from 1 September
2018, employers will have to justify the need for employees of any
age to retire.
Daniel, who was promoted to senior associate in Ogier's
mid-year promotions at the start of the month, says that employers
who don't use the next two years to adapt to the changes could
be liable to compensation claims and significant PR damage if they
try to force out workers who do not want to retire.
He said: "The next two years will be an important time
– if employers do not review and reconsider handbooks,
policies and contracts, they could live to regret it.
"It might be that employees approaching pension age have to
change duties for health and safety reasons, or because of employee
performance, or because of career structuring or promotion
opportunities for colleagues.
"Policies and handbooks need to be reviewed with this
change in mind, along with the general anti-age discrimination
provisions that come into force from the start of next
From 1 September this year, the Employment and Discrimination
Tribunal will be able to make awards of up to £10,000 where
complaints of age discrimination or discrimination–related
harassment are upheld.
From an employment law point of view, because the hearings and
judgments of the tribunal are public, companies also face negative
PR and an impact on their reputation as employers and ability to
recruit and retain staff if they are found to have discriminated
against their staff.
In most cases, companies could be held liable for discriminatory
acts by their employees – and in any case, where a
complainant names both a manager/colleague and their employing
company in their complaint, the tribunal will be able to split any
financial award as it chooses between the cited employee and the
The Ogier Employment Team's recommendations are to:
Amend (if required) employment
handbooks, including policies on equal opportunities and
harassment, setting out what constitutes acceptable behaviour and
what does not.
Review employment contracts and any
relevant policies to ensure they comply with the Law.
Provide training on equal
opportunities and harassment. This may help managers to avoid
inappropriate questions at interviews, or to recognise and deal
with harassment at an early stage.
Set up clear procedures for staff to
raise concerns and complaints, and for dealing with complaints.
Ensure discriminatory behaviour by staff is not tolerated and is
dealt with through proper disciplinary measures.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
The Ministry of Human Resources has recently issued a string of new ministerial resolutions and decrees designed to address gaps in the employment regulatory framework and reinforce existing legislation...
Restraints of trade in the employment contract are quite often not given the attention they deserve until the time comes when the employer is under threat by a former employee and enforcement action is required to protect the business.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).