Free «The Road to Equality in Employment» Essay Sample

Introduction

According to Dickens (2007, p. 463), although there have been efforts done in thirty years to ensure equality legislation in Britain, “the road is still long.” In Britain, the development of British employment equality law has faced several problems due to the anti-discrimination regarding equality in the nation. This paper highlights the problem of ageism in the workplace in relation to this law and focuses on the advancement in the sphere of employment. Considering the problem, there is a necessity to develop ways to create comfortable conditions in the workplace by ensuring that they are favorable for all employees regardless of their age. Thus, there is a need to put more effort in ensuring the implementation of the equality law in order to benefit the affected persons. The development and the nature of the equality law as well as its enforcement is provided, tracking the advantages and the problems arising concerning the law. The paper aims to prove that there has been progress towards promoting equality in the sphere of employment taking into consideration employees affected by the problem of ageism.

Disadvantages Stemming from Age

Ageism in the workplace and the discrimination resulting from it serve as the driving factors to consider the importance of this legislation. The law was enforced in order to protect people from the manifestation of ageism in the workplace (Acas 2014, p. 9). Usually, such workers face challenges in areas like labor market participation, employment opportunities, pay and benefits, and occupational segregation. All these problems affect different groups of workers regarding their age, whereby they are denied certain opportunities and benefits. For instance, in 1990s, ageism was regarded prominent in the public policy in the UK as workers were denied equal chances of employment or promotion and could simply be dismissed. The problems arise due to such barriers as the lack of experience. It was due to its trend of ‘early exit,’ whereby there was both voluntary and involuntary withdrawal of workers from their jobs before the defined retirement age (Duncan & Loretto 2004, p. 95).

Equality Act

The UK is one of those countries that have put into consideration the matter of equality in order to help those affected by different problems during their employment period. These efforts started back in 1970, when major statutes were enacted to provide the basis for the legal framework. In 1979, the Equal Pay Act emphasized on the provision of equal pay among the workers, including women performing duties similar to those of men in the organizations that ensured all the responsibilities are equally distributed. Age discrimination was promoted through the introduction of this EU Equality Directive (2000/78) (Duncan & Loretto 2004, p. 96).

Despite these acts, there have been further improvements to eliminate discrimination in terms of race and gender. However, the legislation in the past 30 years has been comprehensive in terms of the ground of age (Curran & Blackburn 2001, p. 890). There has been a shift from emphasizing anti-discrimination to promoting equality in the workplace, as it has been a challenge facing many workers. In most jobs, the issue of discrimination in terms of age affects numerous people, especially those regarded as either too young or old. Most workers miss opportunities due to the limitations based on age, whereby discrimination is manifested in areas like recruitment as well as promotion of employment practices. These groups are not aware of recruitment opportunities arising in the workplaces (Acas 2015, p. 22).

Retirement

In fighting the discrimination based on ageism, the UK has a strong policy whose aim is to extend working lives. The policy has undergone different stages and is predicted to be effective. Due to the implementation of the policy on equality, employees will continue to work until their state pension age and even beyond (Loretto & Vickerstaff 2015, p. 234). Some of the changes that have been implemented target the older people by offering flexible working conditions that allow them to remain employed for a longer time. Therefore, it allows them to extend thir working period beyond the set retirement age. For instance, part-time working can improve choices for the aged people who may be denied the opportunity to continue working due to their limited opportunities. For instance, downshifting at the end of careers leads to delay of full retirement. In other cases, the old people are provided with bridge jobs that are performed between career occupation and their full retirement, as these people used to retire at an earlier age, which resulted in underutilization of their working potential (Loretto et al. 2005, p. 60; Vickerstaff 2010, p. 870). Thus, the UK government policy supports the need to create flexibility for individuals in order to choose a phased approach to retirement.

The limitation to training is one of the problems that have been affecting workers of different age groups. Employers tend to limit training opportunities to some people who they think are not productive. However, all workers need up-skilling at different points of their career, since it enables them to work effectively and to progress due to changes occurring in labor markets, e.g. technology advancement, competition, and the need for innovation. As a result of legislation regarding equality matters, the staff has the right to access training regardless of age as it does not make sense to deprive older workers of training opportunities (Acas 2013, p. 7).

Training

The need to make this progress was caused by certain reasons. First, it was noted that older employees had limited chances for training although they could still succeed as their younger colleagues. Some would consider it expensive to offer training to workers of all age groups in the organization. However, it is unfair to the old and affects motivation of the older people, their productivity as well as on-going job options. With inadequate training, these individuals have limited upcoming job opportunities. Therefore, the old people should have the chance to access training in their field of interest just as their young counterparts (Acas 2013, p. 8).

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Another progress made has been made to ensure that the older workers get training even if they are assumed to retire within two or three years. Earlier, it was unlawful age discrimination as the older employees never attended trainings when tending towards their retirement (Posthuma & Campion 2009, p. 115). Besides, efforts have been made to ensure that training is open to all workers regardless of their age. Initially, the older ones were not aware of the opportunities open to them, while the others assumed that training was intended for those with inadequate experience. However, the equality law on employment emphasizes and encourages supervisors and line managers to ensure that there is take-up of training by both young and old employees. This strategy is aimed to ensure productivity of businesses as one will utilize all the knowledge gained during the training sessions (Acas 2013, p. 11).

Ageism Directive and Framework Employment Directive

Some progress occurred due to the need to implement the Race Equality Directive together with the Employment Equality Framework Directive. It helped to eliminate workplace discrimination based on age, disabilities, beliefs as well as sexual orientation. It resulted from the growing pressure in Britain to extend the anti-discrimination legislation concerned with age discrimination (Hepple 2010, p. 15). As a way of implementing this law, there has been a discussion on when employees should retire. The absence of default retirement age does not expose workers to work until they are no longer able to. Thus, the individuals have a chance to consider when to retire and ensure that the employer receives sufficient notice on this matter. Therefore, it allows the employees to have control of their lives as well as make decisions with a positive outlook. The other progress made is to ensure that line managers and supervisors are aware on how to prompt performance discussions as well as consider options for flexible approaches to work. The phased retirement help employees to work for a longer period and maximize their business opportunities (Acas 2010, p. 4).

Presentation and Appeal of Grievances

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The law of equality applies to different workplaces including those in the private and public sectors. In these organizations, workers are faced with the challenge of how to present their grievances and how to make the follow-up. Progress has been made in ensuring that harassment and discrimination have minimal effect on the employees. In connection to this, the legislation demands that all organizations have a grievance procedure that helps workers to proceed with their complaint. This procedure applies when the manager is unable to offer assistance or refuses to do so. Moreover, the law allows appealing against the decision of the employer from the grievance procedure, especially when many workers were not satisfied with the decisions made. The need for appeal arose due to the need to fight ageism manifested in the denial of employment opportunities and dismissal from jobs without valid reasons (Acas 2006, p. 6).

Recruitment and Promotion

The equality law has facilitated some progress in the process of fighting age discrimination, which is manifested in the process of both recruitment and promotion. Many people have been affected by ageism, especially in regards with promotion, because some organizations believe that promoting the older employees will not be efficient as they may only serve for a short while before retirement. Thus, the Equality Act has emphasized on offering promotion opportunities to any individual who suites the position regardless of their age. According to Acas (2014, p. 9), when recruiting new members to an organization, the law emphasizes that the decisions about the recruitment be based on the skills as per job requirements rather than other factors as age. Thus, training is offered to those making judgments in order to encourage them to be objective and emphasize on avoiding discriminating the applicants due to their age (Roscigno et al. 2007, p. 314).

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Neo-Liberal Theory

The solution to the ageing population has been successfully realized through the neo-liberal discourse. It increases emphasis on personal responsibility for lifestyle and well-being. Thus, this theory accounts for the dismissal of ageing workers as many employers claims that old people are less productive than the young ones. According to the employers, the blame befalls the old workers as they do not remain fully in the labor market, and in some instances do not upgrade their skills in order to remain competitive. Thus, there have been concerted efforts to make the theory effective by considering people as human capital. It also emphasizes the need to focus on the future value to promote competition through various ways. Rating and rankings have been used to indicate the value as both young and old workers can be gauged as per their efforts and potential evident in the rating created by the organization. The main subject of the policy is to help the older employees cope with their ageing process by enjoying the career opportunities offered to them (Robyn et al. 2014, p. 8).

Conclusion

Age discrimination has affected many workers in the UK before the implementation of the legislation on equality in the workplace. It has urged to implement the equality law in regards to employment, which provides a solution to the problem of age discrimination of both young and old affected by the harassment and victimization in their workplaces. The achieved progress helped them in terms of providing a chance to appeal in case of injustice during decision-making, basing the recruitment on the qualification of the job, and applying the neo-liberal theory. The other progressive acts involve allowing the older employees to work even after retirement by offering them part-time jobs in order to ensure that all their working potential is fully utilized. These steps together with others like provision of training to all and defining the retirement age for individuals provide favorable working conditions and motivate workers to fully use their skills and working potential. These acts have helped to eliminate the issue of age discrimination in the workplace. Thus, progress has been made to ensure that those who were affected by the problem of ageism in the workplace are treated equally now.

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