Recruitment ‘Needs To Be About Skills Not Age’

Specialist Reacts To YouGov Survey Of Over-55s

27.07.2011

An employment law expert at Irwin Mitchell has reminded businesses to ensure they base recruitment criteria on a person’s skills rather than age, following the release of  new research.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by Avanta, revealed that 59 per cent of over-55s in the UK feel that their age is an obstacle to employment, while seven out of ten people in the bracket do not believe they will find a job within three months of becoming unemployed.

This is despite 84 per cent of over-55s stating that they would be willing to consider a career change if they were out of work.

Ed Cotton, a Partner and employment law specialist at Irwin Mitchell, said such findings were a concern and that businesses should take a serious look at their policies to ensure they meet the necessary criteria when recruiting.

He explained: “A substantial proportion of age discrimination cases have been in relation to recruitment practice and outcomes.

“Decisions based on age-related criteria are generally forbidden by the regulations but can be lawful where the employer can show either that this is objectively justified or that there is a genuine occupational requirement for the person to be of a certain age.

“For example, it may be possible to justify the fixing of a maximum age for recruitment based on the training requirements of the post in question, or the need for a reasonable period of employment before retirement.”

Ed added: “In all cases recruitment criteria should be based on the skills and abilities needed to do the job. It is important to avoid unnecessary standards relating to experience, personal qualities or qualifications that could be discriminatory on grounds of age.

“For example, an undue emphasis on formal qualifications may discriminate against older candidates who have acquired the necessary skills through experience rather than by formal education.”