Young workers face ageism in U.K.

New laws to curb all forms of ageism

Ageism is rampant in United Kingdom companies and it's the young workers who are getting a raw deal, according to a recent survey.

The survey, from the Employers' Forum on Age (EFA), found that 61 per cent of working Britons have witnessed ageist behaviour in their workplace and 31 per cent said they knew an older worker, doing exactly the same role as a younger worker, who was paid more because of age.

Forty-one per cent have worked for an organization where people doing the same job were managed differently depending on their age and 23 per cent had heard of a younger person being overlooked for promotion in favour of an older person, regardless of experience.

"Ageism is endemic in our society and rife in our workplaces," said Sam Mercer, director of EFA. "These attitudes need to be challenged and outlawed so that they become as unacceptable as sexism or racism."

The report was released just one week before new legislation aimed at eradicating ageism at work comes into effect on Oct. 1.

"This legislation will help provide protection for people who feel that they have been discriminated against on grounds of their age," said Mercer. "But, as we've seen with gender and race legislation in the past, a change in the law marks just the beginning of a long journey towards tackling social prejudices."

The new legislation will prohibit mandatory retirement before age 65, will remove upper age limits on unfair dismissal as well as age criteria in recruitment, promotion and training.

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