View from the board: age discrimination

Soon after, one of our course presenters came to me to highlight a prime,
timely example of where this kind of training could prove invaluable to a senior
or aspiring finance professional. The topic was age discrimination and the
far-reaching legislation, which will come into effect across the UK on 1

You may wonder what bearing this has on the accountancy profession. The
answer is that employers and employees are going to be affected by these changes
in so many ways that finance departments won’t be able to avoid becoming more
involved in thornier employment issues.

There has been much talk about the likely impact of these new laws, but how
much of it is true? For instance, last month the Financial Times suggested that
at its extreme the legislation could mean a company holding an event at a disco
would amount to age discrimination. Of more direct relevance to readers of
Accountancy Age, could it be true that partners can no longer be made to retire
early after 1 October and can you openly build an accounts team around ‘young
and dynamic ‘employees or similar recruitment descriptions?

Staff who are dismissed could pursue their employer for compensation if their
rights in relation to this new legislation were not clearly explained.
Employers, their lawyers, accountants and HR teams can only mitigate this kind
of financial risk by informing themselves in good time and ensuring all
functions remain on the right side of the legal line.

Considering the issue more broadly, what will your company look like in the
future, with far more employees in their 60s and 70s? And what benefits and
challenges could this present for finance professionals?

Here then is a high profile example of a topic that would never be covered in
an accountant’s core qualification syllabus, but one which will have profound
implications for how finance professionals both in-house and as agents of
employers handle a range of difficult age-related issues in future.

Are you prepared for the greatest development in discrimination law in a
decade? You may still not feel you need to be, but now would be the best time to
find out.

Si Hussain is chief executive of professional development at BPP Professional

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