GMCVO-led programme Ambition for Ageing are delighted to present the first in our Autumn 2020 series of online seminars.
Speaker: Dr Elaine Dewhurst, Senior Lecturer in Employment Law, The University of Manchester
The UN Independent Expert on Ageing recently described the situation of older people during COVID-19 as one that makes them "visible but not heard". Older people in the UK have been identified and variously described in the media as vulnerable and in need of “shielding” from their own fragility and the potential impact of Covid 19. This increase in visibility has not been met by a corresponding increase in voice. The voice of older people relating to their experiences, successes and their contributions has been drowned out by the imagery of vulnerability and fragility.
In the work context this raises a number of significant challenges for older workers. Some of these challenges are direct ones. The negative portrayal of older people has reinvigorated age-old stereotypes around older workers as unhealthy, vulnerable and incapable. Ageism has the potential to undo much of the headway we gained in recent years in eliminating age discrimination in the workplace. Other challenges arise more indirectly as a consequence of the changes brought about in the workplace as a result of Covid 19 such as the digital divide and the drive to lower employer costs. In the recruitment context, these challenges are keenly felt. Older workers are likely to struggle against negative stereotypes, digital skills gaps and finding suitable work.
This seminar will start with a short presentation highlighting the existing challenges facing older workers in the UK in the context of recruitment. The presentation will address the existing legal protections against age discrimination in the UK and the gaps in protection in the context of older workers. Legally speaking, differential treatment on the grounds of age may be justifiable and this talk will analyse the types of justifications commonly utilised by employers to justify their actions such as business need, client expectations and administrative simplicity. The talk will conclude by examining the potential avenues to redress for older persons. It will also discuss potential policy and legal changes needed to assist older workers in the context of recruitment. The seminar will include discussion groups and a question and answer session.