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UCU and FE employers agree guidance on age policy

26 September 2006 | last updated: 15 December 2015

The Association of Colleges has reached agreement with UCU and other FE unions on guidance for age equality in employment in FE.

The Joint agreement on guidance for age equality in employment in further education (.doc) aims to eliminate age discrimination within colleges' and briefs colleges on their duties under the new age discrimination legislation Employment equality (age) regulations 2006 which come into force on 1 October 2006.

The agreement offers a model policy for colleges to consider and contains commitments for adoption which would implement the new regulations, for example: 'job descriptions should be drafted to ensure they are age neutral' and 'In order not to discriminate against young workers, employers should recognise skills and potential as well as experience'.

Roger Kline, head of equality and employment rights at UCU, said: 'This provides a good framework for both employers and unions to consider in local negotiations. I hope that employers will focus attention on meeting the legal requirements swiftly. However, the guidance is primarily a commitment to implementing minimum requirements and I hope that individual employers will adopt interpretations which go beyond this to enhance opportunities for employees rather than restrict them. In particular, where employees wish to continue working on a full-time or part-time basis beyond their normal retirement age we expect employers to give serious consideration to this and not a blanket refusal.

'There is an ageing workforce in FE colleges which could soon create a serious staffing problem. Adopting flexible arrangements for the working options of older staff is just one area that can be explored to address this. Teaching is a stressful job and many staff will want to retire as early as possible, but the important principle is choice.'