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HR Directors More Age Discriminatory Than Public


A survey by BUPA has revealed that HR directors and managers are more likely to discriminate on the grounds of age than the general public.

Two-thirds of the 200 senior HR personnel interviewed believed the retirement age should be 65, whereas three-quarters of the general public believe that people should carry on working for as long as they want to, regardless of age.

However, once the new age discrimination regulations come into force on Sunday, 58 per cent of HR directors believe that the retirement age will effectively rise to somewhere between 66 and 70 by 2026.

Half of all HR managers and directors interviewed believed that the major drawback to employing people over the normal retirement age was increased sickness, an older work force being slower (16 per cent) and more expensive (12 per cent). They also believed that they were less adaptable, had obsolete skills and were less keen to progress.

As far as the general public are concerned, over two-thirds said they would be willing to work until they were 70 if they could do a less demanding job and just under half stated they would work if they knew that everybody else their age was also working.

The main benefits, they said, for working longer were money (29 per cent), mental stimulation (23 per cent), and keeping young and feeling useful to society. But 26 per cent saw no benefit in working over the normal retirement age.

The study from BUPA, commissioned for the annual Health Debate which brings together key influencers in a discussion on health issues, also reveals that HR directors and managers think that employers will need to consider several changes to cater for an ageing workforce.

A quarter of bosses believe that they will need to introduce more flexible working hours, while 21 per cent feel they will have to introduce different health benefits, and one in ten state that there should be physical changes to the workforce and that different extra-curriculum activities should be offered.

Ann Greenwood, director of business markets for BUPA, said: “This research confirms what companies have been telling us for some time, although we were surprised that employers thought people should retire at 65 despite the new legislation.

“Employers should put appropriate plans in place to deal with an ageing workforce – getting it wrong could cost. A good place to start would be looking at your existing employee benefits and checking they comply in areas such as age related eligibility, length of service and the structure of any benefits scheme.”


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