June 28, 2011 - Anonymous
Small-business owners need to train and develop their older workers or risk discrimination claims when the default retirement age (DRA) is scrapped later this year, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has warned.
A CIPD survey of 2,000 employees found that older workers were much less likely than their younger colleagues to have received training, with 51 per cent of those aged 65 or over saying they had received no training in the last three years, compared to 32 per cent across all age groups.
The poll also highlighted that 44 per cent of workers aged 65 or over had either not received a formal performance appraisal in the last two years or had not been appraised at all, compared to a survey average of just 27 per cent.
With the abolition of the DRA this October, the findings indicate that businesses need to treat older workers equally when it comes to training and development or potentially fall foul of the law.
“The removal of the [retirement age] will rightfully put a stop to lazy management of older workers, with employers forced to maximise the talents of an ageing workforce,” said CIPD policy adviser Dianah Worman.
“Too many older workers are currently neglected in the workplace when it comes to training and performance management, with some employers perhaps assuming older staff are nearing the end of their working lives and need less attention,” she added.
Employers needed to “refresh” their employment practices, said Worman, and check that their policies were up to date, including the management of underperformance among older staff.
“Failure to address poor performance of older workers may pave the way for discrimination claims following the phasing out of the DRA if there is a dispute over capability,” she said.
John Walker, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said the scrapping of the DRA “added to the fears of more employment tribunals” for many small firms, but that most “understood the valuable contribution and skills” that older workers brought to a business.
“A recent FSB survey showed that seven in ten small firms currently employ staff over 50 years of age, and a quarter employ staff who are over 65, which shows that many small firms are committed to hiring older workers,” he said.
From October, firms will no longer be able to retire older employees at the DRA of 65 except in limited circumstances.