Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)

  The Institute is pleased to contribute written comments to the above inquiry and will be happy to take part in an oral hearing if invited to do so.

  In our view as shown by the results of the latest Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) survey (enclosed), age discrimination affects younger and older people alike. It leads to organisations making improperly informed decisions about the employment and development of people to the detriment of businesses, individuals and society.

  The CIPD is the leading national professional body on all people management and development issues in the UK with a personal membership exceeding 107,000. It has taken a leadership role for more than a decade in focusing attention on the importance of tackling age discrimination in employment. We believe this is essential to help organisations to recruit and retain the best of all the available talent. We have recommended that employment policies and practices are reviewed to remove age bias. We have also encouraged approaches to human resourcing that help organisations to respond to the challenges of the modern world of business and changes in demographics and people's aspirations and expectations about careers and employment.

  Our policy is that education and understanding about age discrimination is of prime importance and that promotion of the business case for action is essential to undermine entrenched attitudes and traditional expectations about work and how old you have to be to do it. Notable achievements include close involvement with the development of the Voluntary Code on Age Diversity in Employment published in the summer of 1999 and the Government's public awareness campaign.

  In addition, we have promoted the need to tackle age discrimination through written material such as the Quick Fact Sheet on Age and Employment attached to this letter, (available on the CIPD website), and through CIPD national level conferences, such as Opening Doors for Diversity which took place last summer.

  The Institute has been in the vanguard of active promotion and good practice guidance on age diversity. We are serious about the need to systematic change and concerned that the right tools are available to deliver it.

  In stamping out age discrimination we have always taken a cautious line about the introduction of legislation as the main lever for promoting change. Without intrinsic understanding about age discrimination the power of law would be limited. This is because age discrimination can take subtle and complex forms and law that simply banned the use of age related criteria would be easy to circumvent.

  The Institute has been concerned for some time about ways in which discrimination law can be improved as a response to dealing with prejudice and stereotyping. We will be exploring how law works best in helping employers to achieve fairness in the context of work in new CIPD research beginning this year. We hope the findings will be of value in helping to inform new discrimination law and statutory reform in the future.

  The UK is now faced with the introduction of law to meet the requirements of the European Directive on establishing a general framework for the equal treatment in employment and occupation including age discrimination. On age discrimination the Directive falls some way short of the principles of good practice included in the UK Voluntary Code or recommended by the CIPD.

  We have until 2006 to implement an appropriate statute. In the meantime we would like to see a continued and well resourced campaign to raise awareness further and build on the imaginative work already undertaken by the Government in developing and promoting the Voluntary Code on Age Diversity in Employment.

  The campaign should focus on engaging employer action and the creation of a climate of opinion that is ahead of the European legal requirements. We do not think it would be appropriate to dismiss the achievements made in the very short time of the Code's existence. We know from our own efforts that over night success in raising awareness and influencing behaviour is not a realistic outcome. The progress of change is evolutionary not revolutionary. We also think it would make sense to monitor the impact of the human rights legislation on employment practice.

  We hope the Education and Employment Committee finds the above views helpful and will be pleased to expand on them further if required.

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

January 2001

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