Trusts could face huge compensation bills handed out by employment tribunals if they do not get to grips with the new age discrimination legislation that comes into force in October, NHS Employers has warned.

Trusts could face huge compensation bills handed out by employment tribunals if they do not get to grips with the new age discrimination legislation that comes into force in October, NHS Employers has warned.

Under the new laws, staff approaching retirement at 65 will have to be offered the chance to discuss working on after retirement age, and if they are not, they will have grounds for an automatic unfair dismissal claim.

Every member of staff must be informed six months before they reach retirement age that they have a 'right to request' to continue working, and they must have a face-to-face interview to discuss it with their line manager.

They need not necessarily be offered a job once they have passed retirement age, but NHS Employers' age discrimination programme manager Carole Smith said she was concerned that a failure to ensure that all line managers knew of the new regulations could lay trusts open to a host of tribunal claims.

'I'm not convinced that all organisations have set this up, and it could prove very expensive,' she said.

'A lot of work has been done strategically, but not at line manager level. It should be a good process but if it doesn't work, it would result in automatic unfair dismissal.'

Ms Smith's comments followed the publication of a report suggesting that almost one-fifth of healthcare organisations in this country still have work to do to comply with the forthcoming age discrimination legislation.

The report, Managing an Ageing Workforce in Health and Social Care, carried out for the Department for Work and Pensions, suggests that just over 80 per cent of NHS organisations have policies in place to comply with the age discrimination regulations.

However, the interviews with human resources directors that formed the basis for the report were done in spring last year, and Ms Smith said that many NHS organisations had made 'enormous progress' since then.

www.agepositive.gov.uk

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