Age related policies: a global review on age discrimination legislation

Age related policies: a global review on age discrimination legislation

Age discrimination - a way of determining rights and abilities based on stereotypes?

Discrimination on grounds of age tends to invoke less public revulsion than acts of racial or gender discrimination, as it is considered less likely to be based on malicious intent. While this assertion about intent may be true in certain cases, the effects of discrimination upon the quality of lives of older people are nonetheless significant.

This paper, produced as part of a project to create a central resource of knowledge on age discrimination legislation, reviews and discusses legislative response to age discrimination from selected countries around the world. This report focuses on Argentina, Australia, Canada, Jamaica, Japan, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States.

Each country review looks at:

  • documentation of legislation currently in place
  • the area(s) covered by the legislation
  • the remedial measures available
  • and offers discussion of the political context in which the legislation was developed
The author concludes that presently there are no international standards for governments, therefore, legislative frameworks are uniquely developed responding to the internal situation of each country. Though it should be acknowledged that Europe has set regional standards through the European Union’s Framework Equality in Employment Directive of 2000.

Of the countries covered, the report highlights the following observations:
  • despite the fact that its very existence is a challenge to the right to employment, mandatory
    retirement is still permitted in some form in the countries of this report, either for certain
    occupations (such as the military or pilots) in many countries, or for specific cases by country
  • many countries will require several years to measure the effectiveness of their recently implemented legislation, including the United Kingdom (2006) and Australia (2004)
  • other countries, such as Argentina and Jamaica, have yet to implement legislation specifically covering age discrimination
  • the United States, with the earliest legislation, still notes high numbers of registered cases of age discrimination, and is seeing the number of cases increase
  • therefore the immediate future will likely see internal reviews with corresponding amendments to current legislation across various countries, with the possibility of more legislation introduced
Central to the policy development experience in many countries is the comparative lack of understanding of the issues of age discrimination from all sectors including government, the corporate sector and the general public. Several documents in this report note the lack of preparedness among certain segments of the corporate sector for implementing age regulations, the "lack of moral outrage" among the general public, or lack of follow-up research from government and non-government sectors in their countries.