Age law could make things worse for us all

New law will see companies' costs will rise and hit employment

I am afraid that I have to disagree with most of the points Ibukun Adebayo makes in her article "Don't let them kick you out after 40" (Computer Weekly, 19 September).

The new law designed to tackle ageism may very well make employment prospects for the over 40s much worse. As many have already discovered, employers culled as many of the over 40s as they could before the law came into force.

Corporate perception was that once the new procedures became law it would be almost impossible to get rid of what is perceived as "dead wood".

So, maybe everything will be alright after 1 October. Probably not. Employee benefits are required to cover young and old alike. This includes medical cover, death-in-service insurance and employee liability insurance.

Unless companies coat everything in cotton wool, company insurance and medical premiums are bound to increase.

These costs will be further exacerbated when the retirement age starts moving up. I just do not think bosses, shareholders or the younger employees will stomach paying for this.

More tribunals, anyone?

In 2004 a similar age discrimination law was introduced in the Republic of Ireland. According to a recent BBC publication, the result was a continuous rise in employment tribunals.

Do we really want to end our working careers in a position forcibly held open for us, surrounded by resentful colleagues and management? Perhaps we would be better off having the liberty to move to more welcoming employers, performing jobs we feel comfortable with at locations a little closer to home.

The French were right

Earlier this year French prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, tried to help young people in France gain employment by removing employment rights for those under the age of 26. The plan was that this change would encourage employers to hire young people.

I know the French government did not quite pull this off, but the theory was right in my opinion. Perhaps this principle should be applied to our over 40s instead of making them so well protected that they never work again.

On the subject of qualifications, surely the main reason why mature professionals do not get to interview stage (other than the effect of employment rights) is that they are too qualified.

There is no way an ambitious 20-something boss is going to hire a far more experienced person than themselves just so they can be undermined.

Even in cases where this is not true, I know that agencies rarely run the risk of intimidating a client with a candidate of superior experience. If you add additional qualifications to this imbalance then you have even less chance of an interview.

I am now closer to 50 than 40 and agree that one's date of birth should be left off the CV. However, I go one step further and do not even include much of my experience or qualifications.

Dave Overall is managing director of legacy integration software specialist Redvers Consulting

Have your say

What is your take on Dave Overall's opinion, or on the views on ageism on our letters page? E-mail computer.weekly@rbi.co.uk



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