The Government's consultation document on age discrimination heralds the most important employment law reform in a generation. From October 2006, employees will be able to bring tribunal age-bias claims with the prospect of unlimited compensation. Age limits for jobs will be unlawful and ads using words such as 'dynamic' or 'energetic' may be challenged by unsuccessful older applicants. Conversely, a requirement for a 'senior' manager or someone 'with gravitas' could be found to discriminate against younger candidates. Beware the birthday card teasing a work colleague for being 'over the hill'. Terminating older workers' employment will be the most problematic area of all. Executives forced out in their fifties could be in line for huge awards, given their poor prospects of finding alternative work. Crucially, ministers are still undecided on employers' scope to enforce mandatory retirement ages.
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