The document addresses the issue of how the UK should implement an EU directive, which prohibits age discrimination in employment and vocational training.
The document aims to generate feedback on areas including the abolition of a compulsory retirement age, new rules that would prevent employers from setting a required age for a job, and stop employers telling older employees they did not qualify for training.
Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said many companies in the UK already realised there were sound business reasons for promoting diversity in the workplace.
Government research suggests that age discrimination costs the UK £16bn every year.
‘Age discrimination is the last bastion of lawful unfair discrimination in the workplace and it will be outlawed. We must challenge the ageist assumption that younger employees make the best workers,’ Hewitt said in a statement.
‘It is vital that we widen the pool of workers so that employers can make the most of the full range of talent and skills available.’
Hewitt said the legislation was not about forcing people to work longer, but instead would provide more choice and flexibility for those who wish to stay in work in their 50s and 60s.
The consultation, a copy of which can be seen at www.dti.gov.uk/er/equality/age, will run until 20 October 2003.
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