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Age Discrimination and our Attitudes to Older Colleagues

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A three-part survey for William Fry focuses on Age in the Workplace, looking at it from the perspective of employers, employees and the unemployed. The study highlights that half of all organisations don’t have a mandatory retirement age, and that most workers expect to have to work beyond the State retirement age. The average employer tends to start thinking of employees as “old” at 51. The published pdf highlights findings from the three surveys as well as illustrating local case law and specific examples that shape the current legal situation around age at work.

 

48% of organisations don’t have a mandatory retirement age.

Older workers are defined by employers as 51 years and over.

As Ireland’s population ages, research published today in the latest William Fry Employment Report: Age in the Workplace found that 63% of employees aged 55 years or over either don’t wish or don’t expect to be financially able to retire when they reach the current state pension age of 66 years old. This trend of working as we get older means that employers need to ensure they have appropriate HR policies in place to support both existing employees as they age and also to continue to attract younger employees in order to grow their business and succession plan.

The Report is based on a survey, commissioned by William Fry, of Irish employers, employees and people currently seeking work. The results found that 48% of Ireland’s organisations don’t have a stated retirement age with many relying either on individuals retiring when they reach 65 (even though the current state retirement age is now 66, rising to 68 by 2028). However, as the majority of working people expect to have to work beyond retirement age, enforced retirement is therefore likely to become an increasingly contentious issue.

The Report also examines age discrimination in the workplace. Interestingly, employers defined an “older worker” as someone who is 51 years or more and a “younger worker” as 26 years or younger. 42% of employers suggest that there are upper age limits for customer facing roles. 60% of employers think it is difficult for younger workers to manage older workers. In relation to recruitment, the research found that 45% of employers try to deduce a candidate’s age based on CV analysis and this is most prevalent in financial services, retail and transportation sectors.

The perceptions surrounding older and younger employees is one of the most interesting findings of the research. The characteristics attributed to “younger employees” and “older employees” seem to follow societal stereotypes:

• 61% of employers believe that older workers are resistant to change

• 50% of employers believe that older workers are more loyal than younger workers

• 71% of employers believe that the pace of technological change presents a challenge to older workers.

When it comes to looking for work, those currently seeking employment felt that being older was a disadvantage, with 38% believing age had been a negative influence on them not getting work, rising to 87% among those aged 55 or over.

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