Wednesday, 30 June 2010

US: Age bias complaints surge in bad economy

After getting laid off from her job at a private school, Joyce Kalivas-Griffin was heartened to see virtually the same job open up at another school in her area.

Kalivas-Griffin, 57, applied for the job, but heard nothing. Then the job was posted again, and she applied again, this time submitting a resume that she had edited to mask her age.

The second time, she said she was called in for an interview, but eventually lost out to a younger candidate.

Kalivas-Griffin doesn’t think that the other candidate was any less qualified, but she does think that her own age played a role in not getting the job.

“I have to kind of be almost pragmatic about it,” she said. “Would I hire somebody that was 57, thinking, ‘Will she be around? Will I be able to have a history with her (or) will she retire in two years or four years or six years?’”

The recent recession has amplified concerns that older workers are facing a tougher time getting — or keeping — jobs because of stereotypes about everything from the salaries they may demand to their ability to learn new skills.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saw a 33 percent increase in the number of age discrimination complaints that were filed during its past two fiscal years combined, as compared to the prior two fiscal years. That translates into 47,360 complaints filed between October 2007, two months before the nation went into recession, and September of 2009.

Over the same two-year period, total discrimination complaints to the EEOC rose 19 percent, to 188,679. Discrimination complaints in general tend to rise during economic downturns, when people are more likely to lose a job and have more trouble finding new work.

Older workers seen as more expensive

Companies are desperate to cut costs in a weak economy. Experts say older workers can become more vulnerable because more experienced workers tend to command higher salaries. A company looking at the bottom line may conclude that the best thing to do is cut the most expensive employees.

“What they end up doing is lay off the older folks,” said Mike Baldonado, district director of the EEOC in the San Francisco office, which has seen a surge in complaints since the recession began.

Some older workers, such as Kalivas-Griffin, say they are finding their job search much more arduous than in the past.

The unemployment rate for workers 55 and older is lower than for any other age group, at 7.1 percent in May as compared to 9.7 percent for the population as a whole. But those older workers who lose their jobs are taking much longer to find a new one.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said workers ages 55 to 64 were taking an average of 44.5 weeks to find a new job in May, compared with 35.1 weeks for the population as a whole. The latest jobless numbers for June are due out Friday.

Assumptions are widespread

Peter Cappelli, a professor of management at The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who has researched this topic extensively, said that while most employers know it’s unacceptable to make a broad judgments about women or minorities — such as saying that they don’t respond well to change or aren’t fast learners — people will routinely make such comments about older workers.

“What is different about age discrimination is that the assumptions are so much more widespread and the apparent willingness to act on them is much more widespread,” Cappelli said.

Kalivas-Griffin, who lives in Tacoma, Wash., had been the facilities and transportation secretary at a private school for 12 years when she was laid off in November of 2008. She thought her years at the private school, combined with extensive prior experience doing bookkeeping and taxes, would make her an ideal job candidate.

Instead, she now thinks that her long resume could have been a turnoff to employers, who may have worried that she’d be overqualified or not stick around long enough.

Besides editing her resume, Kalivas-Griffin has lost 25 pounds and cut and dyed her hair. Still, she’s had no luck landing a job.

She’d prefer a full-time job because it would give her and her husband, a contract worker, access to health insurance and other benefits. But increasingly, she said she is moving toward starting her own bookkeeping and tax business, while selling custom-made jewelry on the side.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Julian Knight: Our ageing population must be less ageist

We've known for several years that we will have to wait longer for our state pension, but the goalposts were moved once again last week with the confirmation that the Government wants first men and later women to work till 66 from 2016.

But what work are people going to do while they wait for the least generous state pension in the developed world? Finding a job beyond 50 or even younger in some professions (such as media) is nearly impossible as employers routinely discount older candidates because they are supposedly more likely to be off ill and are difficult to train. This is nonsense; in my experience, younger workers' sick records are often far worse, and to suggest older workers can't be trained is pure prejudice.

Yet the UK workplace is steeped in ageism: it can be found in job adverts specifying "energetic", "fresh" or just plain discriminatory "young" applicants only. When it comes time to get rid of staff, often older members are the first out of the door. Some retailers recruit older people and make a lot of PR noise out of it, but do you fancy spending the back end of your career as an Asda greeter?

For this to work, we need a fundamental shift in how society views age. To a certain extent this will happen naturally. We are an ageing population so you'd hope that we would wake up to the fact that by being ageist at work we're hurting ourselves. But I don't have huge faith in people to learn this lesson fast. We do have age discrimination laws but they are limited to the under-65s, and I feel they don't genuinely stigmatise in the same way as sex and race laws do. It's still the case that although the pension age is 65, the average age a man stops working in the UK is about 62.

If the Tories expect us to wait even longer for our pension – beyond 70 – then they should get interventionist (which they won't) over the subject of age discrimination and more flexible over retirement saving (which I expect they will). They have to close the gap between when people really finish work and the state pension age or, at worst, keep it to about three years. The alternative is allowing hundreds of thousands more men and women to eke out the best part of a decade on benefits before eventually getting their hands on a state pension.

Read my lips: more taxes

It's an old joke, but how can you tell a politician is lying? Answer: their lips move. Throughout the election we had Labour with its fictitious public spending efficiency measures and now feigned horror at a VAT rise it certainly was planning itself. Meanwhile, the Lib Dems and Tories pretend that now they've seen the books then the rise was inevitable, although they too planned it all along.

If you're tempted to think you got away lightly, think again. Who is to say that the downgraded economic forecasts aren't still overly optimistic? Only a percentage point out and more taxes will have to go up.

Lloyds' sleight of hand

If I didn't know better, I'd think that we were seeing a gradual unwinding of the punitive unauthorised bank charges regime when Lloyds announced last week that from December (why the wait?) it will cut its fees for bouncing cheques and direct debits. Most of the big players have reduced their charges with some notable exceptions (Clydesdale bank still levies a rip-off 30 per cent interest on its unauthorised borrowings and a £35 "unpaid item" fee), but these fees are still a massive money-spinner for the banks. All that is happening is that the banks are doing the bare minimum to assuage some of their critics over charges. In Lloyds' case it has even decided to fund its generosity by reducing the interest rate it pays some of its current account holders and an introducing a £5 usage fee on authorised overdrafts – this from a bank you and I practically own. Half-hearted and sleight of hand is the only conclusion.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Explainer: Raising the pension age

What changes is the Government making?

The coalition plans to raise the pension age in 2016 to 66 for men and from 2020 for women. There is also talk of increasing the pension age to 70 or more over the next few decades, replacing the previous government's plans to increase the state pension age to 68 by 2046. The coalition also intends to abolish the existing default retirement age of 65, which means employers won't be able to dismiss workers just because they reach a certain age. Finally, the Government has confirmed plans to auto-enrol people into workplace pensions from 2012.

What have they not said today?

The subtext of today's announcements – and similar pension announcements from the previous government – is that if you don't start saving for your retirement now, you'll end up practically penniless with few choices when you finish working. The message from Iain Duncan Smith yesterday was: "Everyone needs to take responsibility for achieving the income in retirement they aspire to."

I'm in my twenties. Do I really need to think about this now?

It is a long way off but, presuming we all live that long, the fact that you may have to work longer before you can draw a state pension is not a cheery thought. However, if you are in your twenties you're in the best position to avoid having to work until you're 70. Saving now for your retirement will allow you to build up a decent nest-egg to give yourself the choice of retiring earlier – much earlier – if you wish.

Doesn't it discriminate against manual workers who might be exhausted by 60?

The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) warns that raising the retirement age will see some people being forced to work until they drop. "The wealthier you are, the longer you live, so raising the retirement age therefore is a direct attack on the very poorest in our society," says Dot Gibson, general secretary of the NPC. According to the latest NHS figures, men in Blackpool live to 73.2 years on average, which would give them just over three years to enjoy their retirement. Men in Kensington and Chelsea, by contrast, have a life expectancy of 84.7.

Will it lead to fewer jobs for graduates, as not as many older people will be retiring?

That's the concern of some. Compared to today, the number of people over 65 will be half as many again in 2030, and will have doubled by 2060, according to the Department for Work and Pensions. If more are being forced to work, there could be fewer jobs for graduates. But a more likely scenario is that today's young people will build up decent pension pots through the auto-enrolment scheme, which will force employers to set up retirement schemes. If so, their savings should be decent enough for them to be able to retire earlier, meaning they won't need to rely on the paltry state pension payouts which look likely to be on offer at the time. Then if more people retire early, more jobs will become available for graduates.

I'm 64 and have already made plans for retirement. What happens if it goes up to 70?

It won't happen in your working lifetime. In fact you'll be retired by the time the age climbs to 66. The increase will only hit people who are due to retire at 65 from 2016 onwards.

Do I actually have to do anything or is this all automatic?

With regards to the state pension, which is what this is all about, you need to do nothing. It will all happen automatically and you'll be told if your retirement age is changing. However, the important message for anyone in their twenties, thirties or forties is to start saving now for your retirement, if you haven't already. If you don't, you'll be left with very little choice when you reach your late sixties.

I have a pension but have no idea what I've accumulated so far. How do I find out?

You need to contact your pension providers. That could be your current employer's scheme, or that of previous firms you've worked for. If you have a private pension you'll need to contact the bank, life assurance company or building society that administers it. If you've lost track of your pension, contact the Pension Tracing Service.

Simon Read, Personal Finance Editor

Facing the challenge of an ageing population

Our ageing population is one of the greatest challenges facing society this century. To combat that challenge, Age Concern and Help the Aged have joined forces to form Age UK. Actors Sir Ian McKellen, Brian Cox and Eleanor Bron explain why they're offering their support

The veteran British actor Sir Ian McKellen may be 70, but he's still working hard. He's currently playing Estragon in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot in the West End, and is preparing to resurrect his role of Gandalf in the new films of the Hobbit, which will begin shooting sometime this year.

"What I enjoy most about being old, is not feeling old," says McKellen. "I believe people should be allowed to go on working. I'm 70, I'm an actor, and I work. Plenty of people can go on working or share jobs."

The default retirement age in the UK is currently set at 65. McKellen isn't the only one who believes that should change. Age UK, the new charity which sees Age Concern join forces with Help the Aged, Age Scotland‚ Age Cymru and Age NI, is campaigning to end age discrimination in the workplace. The newly merged organisation will present one, unified voice to challenge ageist prejudice in society‚ provide services that address market failures and support the public and private sectors to design age-friendly products and services. And McKellen has been brought on board for its first ever TV advertising campaign.

"I don't do commercials," says McKellen. "But for someone of my age, a charity such as this is a good thing, so when they asked me to help, I wanted to."

Alongside climate change, population ageing is the greatest global transition to face society this century. "None of us are exempt from ageing," says 63-year-old actor Brian Cox, who is also taking part in the campaign. "We tend to be such a youth-oriented culture … but everybody's going to get old." Cox says that, as a young man, he was always cast in older roles. "Sometimes I'd be playing parts that were maybe 20 years older, and I didn't have the experience – the great thing about age is experience, and I hope a bit of wisdom, as well."

At 72, actor Eleanor Bron says age is "something I have rather a lot of". Like McKellen, she had never done a television advert before, but when the 64-year-old director Richard Loncraine approached her, she felt "this is worth doing", and like all the actors involved in the campaign donated her time for free.

"We are all surviving longer and so age is becoming a very important issue," she explains. "It is very important to keep the communication between the generations and I'm afraid in the society we live in today that's becoming more difficult."

The lives of people in later life should be improved – and that's what Age UK is doing. Ageing isn't something to be ashamed of – it should be celebrated, even though it undoubtedly poses unprecedented challenges, care being one of them.

Helping people to stay in their own home

McKellen supported his stepmother to live at home until she was 100. "She was entirely dependent on other people's help," he explains. "Now, if you've got great neighbours, that's terrific, but if you don't and you're a little bit nervous about using social services because you've never done that in your life, then you need someone like a big organisation to come along and say: 'It's all right, there are things we can do, and here's someone you can talk to and think of as a friend.' It's all perfectly simple, but it needs the cash to roll it along."

Age UK has a welter of advice on these sorts of issues, and not just for older people. It is equally keen to support their carers - as this video explains (click on 'help for carers').

Age UK also fills some of the gaps left by government. Last year, its "more money in your pocket" campaign helped unravel the confusion around the benefits you are entitled to as you get older, and secured more than £100m in unclaimed money for pensioners and their carers. One such source of often untapped support is attendance allowance. To find out more about that, click here.

Reducing isolation and loneliness

Age UK seems to be tapping into people's natural concern for old people – because we all know some," explains McKellen. "If older people begin to feel isolated and don't have families close by them, then they need a family substitute and that's what society can provide. If the government isn't going to, then that's fine, as long as charities are given free rein and have enough money. I'm just encouraging people to do what I do and support Age UK."

Age UK takes simple steps to reduce the loneliness experienced by over a million older people through their befriending services, grants to community groups to buy vehicles and provide door to door transport.

Age UK is also the only UK charity to focus research funds on a range of issues affecting us in later life and, among other things, has been involved in the discovery of the gene mutation that causes early onset Alzheimer's. Research funded by Age UK has led to the potential for a stroke-busting drug and pioneering work to uncover the causes of poor wound-healing in older people.

To find out more about Age UK's services, call the information and advice line on 0800 169 29 39 or go online.

Nick Clegg: "We are reinvigorating what retirement means"

The government is to speed up plans to raise the state pension age for men to 66, possibly by as early as 2016.

Ministers will also raise the option of extending it further, perhaps to 70 and beyond in the following decades.

The default retirement age of 65 - at which workers can be legally axed by employers - is also set to be axed.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said it was time to "reinvigorate the pensions landscape".

Under the plans women will move to a state pension age of 66 a few years after men.

'Talent and enthusiasm'

The coalition team running pensions policy - Conservative Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and Liberal Democrat pensions minister Steve Webb - announced the proposals at a briefing in London.

Mr Duncan Smith said: "Britain used to have a pensions system to be proud of, but due to years of neglect and inaction we are left with fewer people saving into a pension every year and the value of the state pension has been eroded, leaving millions in poverty.

"We must live up to our responsibility to reinvigorate the pension landscape.

"People are living longer and healthier lives than ever, and the last thing we want is to lose their talent and enthusiasm from the workplace due to an arbitrary age limit.

Labour's Yvette Cooper said raising the pension age sooner was unfair on people nearing retirement.

"We also need to recognise that to meet the challenge of providing an affordable, stable pensions system in a society with ever increasing life expectancy, people will need to work longer."

The previous Labour government's policy was to raise the pension age to 66 in 2024 and then gradually to 68 by 2046.

The coalition argues that this should be speeded up, eventually meaning a pension age of 70 or older.

The government also wants to scrap the default retirement age - which allows employers to shed staff at the age of 65.

Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said such a policy would damage "businesses' ability to manage their workforce".

'Days of Dickens'

He urged the coalition instead to raise the default retirement age or "offer employers a new dismissal route that helps business manage their workforce, regardless of age".

For Labour, shadow work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper accused the government of "moving the goalposts" for people in the fifties, leaving them thousands of pounds worse off.

She added: "This is unfair for a group of people who haven't got time to change their plans."

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: "As well as hitting pay, living standards, public services and jobs, the latest assault from the government is work until you drop.

"If you are a rich banker with a private pension you can sail off on your yacht at 55, but for working men and women retirement will be pushed further and further over the horizon in a step back to the days of Dickens. That is not sharing the pain, it is hitting the poorest hardest yet again."


UK life expectancy is currently 77 years for men and 81 for women.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: "The government knows that manual workers in the industrial regions of the UK do not enjoy anything like the same life expectancy as professionals or other classes or employees.

"To force someone who has done a lifetime of toil on building sites, farms or in factories to work until they are 66 is completely unacceptable."

In Tuesday's Budget the government announced that, from April 2011, the state pension would go up by the increase in average earnings, or in line with prices, or by 2.5% - whichever is highest.

Previously it would go up every April by 2.5%, or the level of the Retail Prices Index the previous September.

This had been considered as unfair by some, as prices had lagged behind average earnings.


This is a knee jerk reaction from the coalition which brings forward the proposals of the previous Labour government – so all 3 parties are offering the same analysis and the same response – take it out on poor pensioners.

We agree with the National Pensioners Convention that this is forcing older people who have already worked for 40 – 50 years to forgo another year of retirement and because of the poverty level of pensions paid by the state in the UK ( UK offers practically the lowest level of real pensions and as a percentage of average wages in the EU).

There are 2.5 million people out of work aged 50 – 64. Raising the pension age by 1 year, then another and another until we reach 70 as the state pension age will just mean that more and more people will be unemployed and on benefits instead of getting their rightful ( and higher) pension entitlements. There is no strategy to market and promote older workers and age diversity to employers from all sectors ( PLCs, private, voluntary and public sector) so there will be no increase in the numbers of over 50s let alone over 65s being given jobs – currently if you are a man aged 55 who has lost his job you have less than 5% chance of getting another permanent job – full or part time.

There is no legislation to enforce the right to work for those over 65 if they wish to do so, therefore many people reaching 65 will be made redundant. While we do not support any legislation which compels people to continue working we do support people’s right to work if they wish to and can do so. Unfortunately one of the main reasons for people so doing is the poverty level of pension provision – even with pension credits the total amount of a full state pension is below the poverty line – thus forcing people to continue to work.

This has to be addressed over the next period of time and we older working age people need to make ourselves heard in any consultation / feedback process which is launched, in order to challenge the lazy thinking behind this. The need for proper pension provision is a basic right in any democratic civilised society and not to force people to work until they drop. The current crisis is not one of just demographics it is the failure of the state to provide a basic living pension, a failure of employers to meet their pension obligations to maintain high senior management remuneration and high share holder returns and the failure of the hardly regulated financial industry to provide reasonable returns to private pension savings ( Equitable Life for example). The problem is not between pensioners and young workers it is between all workers as opposed to the top 5% of earners, shareholders, financial speculation and banking irresponsibility.

If we are to help older people wishing to work until 65 then we need to help them with training and other support – where currently older workers are last in line for training opportunities as well as challenge employer stereotypes.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Equitable Life: Former auditors fined and reprimanded

The former auditors of the Equitable Life, Ernst & Young, have been fined and reprimanded by the accountancy profession's disciplinary body.

E&Y was fined £500,000 with costs of £2.4m for failing to warn Equitable policyholders of the society's problems a decade ago.

Both E&Y and a former partner, Kevin McNamara, were reprimanded.

The decision has only now become public, after an appeal against much more severe punishments two years ago.

Equitable said it noted the punishments.

"We are working with the new government to establish a compensation scheme that is swift, simple, transparent and fair," it said.


In 2008, the accountant's joint disciplinary scheme ruled that E&Y and Mr McNamara had been guilty of more than 20 instances of a "lack of professional competence" when carrying out audits of the Equitable's accounts for the years 1997, 1998 and 1999.

Any lessons from our audit of Equitable have long been learned and embedded in our audit systems and procedures

Ernst & Young

It also found that they had been guilty of "a lack of objectivity and independence", which it said had been "the most serious" of the allegations.

At first E&Y was fined £4.2m with £5.75m costs, while both it and Mr McNamara were reprimanded "severely".

However, after an appeal, the punishments were reduced as the appeal tribunal decided that E&Y and Mr McNamara had not, after all, lacked objectivity or independence.

The accountancy firm welcomed the outcome of the appeal.

"We are nonetheless disappointed by the remaining adverse findings of the joint disciplinary tribunal in relation to aspects of the audit for the financial years 1997-1999," it said.

"Any lessons from our audit of Equitable have long been learned and embedded in our audit systems and procedures.

"The relevant individuals at Ernst & Young have retired from the firm in the last 10 years," it added.

Close to collapse

The Equitable Life closed to new business in 2000 and came close to collapse after failing to put sufficient funds aside to pay for the guaranteed payouts it had promised on some of the pension policies it had been selling from the 1950s until 1988.

The disciplinary scheme found that as auditors of the Equitable's accounts, E&Y should have warned policyholders, in 1998 and 1999, about the dangers of the society losing a High Court Test case that concluded in 2000.

The society had launched this action in 1999, to validate a policy whereby it had been side-stepping promises it had been making to some of its with-profits investors.

The scheme also found that the auditors should have warned that the 1999 accounts did not give a "true and fair view" of the Equitable's finances, because they did not reveal the lack of adequate reserves to meet those promises.

The result was that in 1999 and 2000 a total of £4.7bn was invested by savers in the Equitable's with-profits polices when they might not otherwise have done so.

They consequently suffered big losses from 2000 onwards when the new management of the Equitable brought in to rescue it slashed the value of the savers' polices to help restore the society to financial stability and stop it becoming insolvent.

Only this year have more than a million savers with the society been offered some hope of compensation for their losses.

One of the first decisions of the new coalition government has been to announce that it will follow the recommendation of the Parliamentary Ombudsman two years ago.

It has decided to set up a "fair and transparent" scheme whereby the Treasury will make payments to Equitable savers to compensate them for their "relative" losses.

Details of the scheme have yet to be published but legislation is scheduled for the coming year.

BBC article

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Female presenters out to pasture at 45, says axed Countryfile presenter

No woman is safe in television once she reaches 45, according to a Countryfile presenter who is suing the BBC for age and sex discrimination.

Miriam O'Reilly, 53, was made redundant from the BBC One programme last April, along with three female colleagues of similar age. They were replaced by the younger presenter Julia Bradbury.

"This was discrimination, which wouldn't happen if I was black or disabled," said Miss O'Reilly, an award-winning journalist who also worked on Radio 4's Farming Today programme.

"To be condemned and made redundant, to have my life cancelled because of my age... No, I'm sorry, they can't do that. That's wrong. The BBC has to start listening. We are the disappeared. No woman is safe in TV once she reaches the age of 45."

Miss O'Reilly said her age was no bar to doing the job. "I have got all my faculties. I run, hike, climb - I love being outdoors. My age shouldn't be an issue if I can still do my job, which I believe I can.

"I was good at what I did. I loved working for Countryfile and was passionate about what we were doing on the show."

However, Miss O'Reilly claims that she was made to feel embarrassed about her age. Senior editors would "get very upset" if her grey roots showed through, she claimed, adding that a cameraman once presented her with a can of hair dye and a colleague suggested she try Botox.

On another occasion, she alleges, a director joked that the advent of high definition television would be a critical moment in her career because "we won't be able to disguise your wrinkles then". Another presenter was told to lose weight, she claimed.

Countryfile's line-up was changed when the BBC announced plans to move the show from Sunday mornings to a primetime slot. While the female presenters were replaced, 69-year-old John Craven remained in his job.

Ratings have gone up since the primetime move, but Miss O'Reilly told the Mail on Sunday: "They justify all this with audience figures, but how do you know you wouldn't get those same figures with older women? There are no older women in primetime. Surely that needs to change."

She is due to face her former employers at a tribunal in November. It emerged last week that the number of sex and age discrimination brought against the BBC by female employees has quadrupled in the past two years.

The corporation faced criticism for sacking Moira Stuart, the newsreader, when she was 55, and replacing Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips, 67, with Alesha Dixon, who is half her age.

Newscaster Anna Ford and Gardener's World presenter Carol Klein have also spoken publicly about perceived ageism within the corporation. Other broadcasters have faced accusations of discrimination against older women - Selina Scott won a £250,000 settlement against Channel Five in 2008, claiming she was passed over for a job due to her age.

Mariella Frostrup, the Radio 4 presenter, recently claimed the Today programme lacked women presenters because it was run by "a bunch of misogynists", although she later backtracked and said her remark had no factual basis.

When Miss Bradbury was unveiled as the new face of Countryfile, her age was given at 36. However, it later emerged that she was actually 38.

A BBC spokesman said: "Our programmes always strive to reflect as broad a range of diversity as possible. For example, Kirsty Wark, Maxine Mawhinney and Martha Kearney regularly feature on BBC television and radio shows as well as presenters including Gloria Hunniford, Sheila Hancock, Jennie Bond, Angela Rippon and Annie Nightingale.

"Any suggestion that the presenters of ‘Countryfile’ were replaced on the grounds of age is absolute nonsense.”

Daily Telegraph

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Wise Owls ageism and the myths

  • Myth Chronological age determines health and age brings illness and disease.
  • Myth Getting older is associated with a loss of cognitive capacity.
  • Myth Older workers have less physical strength and endurance.
  • Myth Older workers tend to have poorer sensory abilities such as sight and hearing.
  • Myth Older workers have more time off sick.
  • Myth Older workers have difficulty adapting to change.
  • Myth Older workers find it hard to learn new information making their knowledge and skills outdated.
  • Myth Older workers have more accidents in the workplace.
  • Myth Older workers are less productive.
  • Monday, 7 June 2010

    NHS age discrimination manager awarded £147,000

    A senior NHS manager has been awarded £147,000 after winning a battle to prove that she was passed over for promotion because of her age.

    An employment tribunal in Leeds found that Linda Sturdy, 60, who worked in the breast screen clinic at the city’s Seacroft Hospital for 17 years, was subject to age discrimination when a colleague 13 years her junior and with 35 years less experience than her was promoted to run the unit.

    Sturdy had been the preferred candidate for the role until she revealed she had just over three years to go until she hit the retirement age. A manager at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust told her: “I didn’t realise you were so old,” before giving the promotion to the younger woman.

    Sturdy was subsequently sacked in May 2008 after refusing to take a more junior position.

    Last year, Sturdy was awarded £40,000 in damages after it was proved that her managers had behaved in what was described this week as a “high-handed, malicious, insulting and oppressive” fashion.

    According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Judge Christine Lee, said at the hearing that her dismissal had broken employment law and that the Trust was trying to “defend the indefensible”.

    “It’s one thing to have a threat of dismissal handing over you and another for it to be carried out in such a high-handed fashion”, she added.

    The latest payout was to cover Sturdy’s loss of income and pension, injury to feelings, aggravated damages and any interest owed. She now intends to pursue the Trust for legal costs.

    Jackie Green, HR director at the Trust, said that every effort had been made to resolve matters outside of court and avoid further expenditure on the case, which came out of public funds.

    “The Trust has accepted that mistakes were made in the handling of this original issue, and that regrettably Mrs Sturdy has, as a consequence, been the subject of less favourable treatment and is, therefore, entitled to compensation on that basis,” she added.

    Wednesday, 2 June 2010

    Wise Owls feature in new book

    Wise Owls and their campaign for an age audit has featured in a new book named 'The dynamics of Managing Diversity' by Gill Kirton and Anne-Marie Greene. Wise Owls continuing campaign to get an age audit conducted across the country is still gaining momentum and will continue until an age audit is promised by the government.

    Ageism has no role in France claims Kristin

    The 50-year-old beauty, who has long lived in Paris, believes film- makers in France have a far healthier attitude to older actresses. Kristin, who appears in French movie Leaving, says: “I think it’s because England tends to follow America so strongly or they’re making films for children – and when I say ­children I mean anyone under 25.

    “I’m really getting evil in my old age! French cinema is not afraid of women of my age. I think it’s less terrified of disobeying the rules of what is beaut­iful and what is acceptable to look at.”

    The actress, whose film credits to date memorably include The English Patient and Four Weddings And A Funeral, is required to bare all in her latest flick, which focuses on a woman’s struggle to escape her unhappy domestic life.

    “Obviously I haven’t done scenes like that for a very, very, very long time and I don’t think I’ll be doing them again any time soon!” she tells Easy Living magazine, before modestly insisting that her well-toned appearance was courtesy of “good lighting”.

    She adds: “In fact, strangely, I feel much more confident about my appearance now, even with wrinkles on my face, than I did when I was 25. Which is bizarre isn’t it?

    “If one could preserve ­oneself at 45 then I think that would probably be ideal – but you can’t.

    “Unfortunately lots of women try to do just that and that’s where they come a cropper because it doesn’t really work does it?”