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Bite-size learning: Age discrimination – ‘Dynamic and energetic’

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13th Dec 2005
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In the third part of this five-part, bite-sized series, Lucy Lewis, associate in the employment and incentives department of Lewis Silkin spells out just what employers can and cannot say in recruitment advertisements.

Age Discrimination legislation comes into force on 1 October 2006. Following the introduction of the legislation it will be unlawful to discriminate against employees on the grounds of their age (unless this can be justified). This will impact on all aspects of the employment relationship from recruitment to retirement and damages for successful claims will be uncapped.

The experience of countries that already have age discrimination shows that it will be particularly important to avoid suggestions of discrimination from the wording used in job advertisements. We will be examining the sort of wording used by employers in job advertisements and explaining how that may be considered to be discriminatory over the next few weeks.

The example:
Our second example is the use of the term"…dynamic and energetic…"

The lesson:
These sorts of words can be difficult. You can certainly be dynamic and energetic at any age. But isn’t this employer really trying to give the impression that a young person is sought for the role. If not, what does the employer mean? It is not as though the employer needs to clarify that it isn’t looking for an undynamic or unenergetic employee! Unless the employer is able to explain why these words are necessary, it is likely that an older unsuccessful applicant will use them to argue that the employer had an ageist attitude.

Next week:
Next week we will look at the use of the following phrase: "…travel at short notice…"

Series articles:

Related items

Lucy Lewis can be contacted at: [email protected]

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By roryh
15th Dec 2005 11:43

These, and other similar terms, like 'Drive', 'thrusting' or even 'competitive' betray a predominately male military (or at least athletic) and definitely young and non-disabled view of what organisations (and society generally) really wants and respects. At best this means that older, female, or disabled people might be tollerated if they can prove they are 'capable' of really being like younger male nondisabled people despite there own natural way of being or working. Existing disability employment regulation also pay specific attention to wording in recruitment literature, and it is worth considering that what appears in advertisements usually reflects what creeps into person specifications. These are supposed to be measurable, and lie at the heart of the long-listing let alone short-listing processes.

To combat this kind of rife discrimination a real examination of what a 'job' or an organisation requires is necessary. This takes hard work, time and intelegence. Could it be that all of these are in short supply.

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