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Commission Staff

Volume 450: debated on Wednesday 25 October 2006

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if he will (a) carry out an age audit of its staff to establish an age profile of its workforce, (b) negotiate an age management policy with trade unions and employees to eliminate age discrimination and retain older workers, (c) identify and support training needs and offer older staff flexible working to downshift towards retirement and (d) extend to over-fifties the right to request to work flexibly and the right to training with paid time-off; and if he will make a statement. (96482)

The House of Commons Service has monitored the age profile of its staff for a number of years. For the last two years, the following statistics have been produced by the Corporate Learning and Diversity team.

Age

September 2005

September 2006

Under 25

5.3

5.1

25-39

36.7

37.3

40-49

27.1

28.8

50-59

22.3

21.0

60-65

8.6

9.2

The House’s retirement policy has been reviewed, in consultation with the trade unions, in the light of legislation on Age Discrimination which became law on 1 October. The new retirement procedure allows staff to request to remain in employment after their 65th birthday either in their present role or in another role within the House where a vacancy occurs.

All staff of the House are required to complete a personal development plan each year. Departmental Training Officers then arrange events to meet identified needs. Training, learning and development are available to all staff of the House. There are no age restrictions apart from where the training might still be continuing when retirement age is reached. Work-related training is normally undertaken in working time, so staff are paid as normal. The House also offers pre-retirement courses. The House’s Corporate Business Plan states that it recognises flexible working will help to retain valued staff which will be essential to meet changing business needs. For some time, all permanent staff have had the right to request flexible working. Working patterns by gender, ethnicity, age and pay band are being monitored to ensure fair treatment to all.