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Age Discrimination

Volume 451: debated on Monday 30 October 2006

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if her Department 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 she will make a statement. (96488)

My Department produces an annual workforce composition diversity statistics report which includes information on permanent staff by responsibility level and age.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs Equality and Diversity Policy forbids age discrimination and prior to 1 October 2006 all our polices and procedures were reviewed to ensure they were not age discriminatory. On 1 April 2005 a corporate retirement policy was introduced with a normal retirement age of 65 for all staff along with the right to ask to continue working beyond the age of 65. These changes were discussed with the departmental trade union side.

All employees within my Department are regularly encouraged to upgrade their skills and knowledge. Pre-retirement training is part of a standard prospectus open to all staff. Under my Department's flexible working policy, in addition to the statutory provision, all DCA employees regardless of their length of service have the right to apply for flexible working. Employees may make an application whenever their circumstances require. Any reasonable request will be considered.