Thursday, May 18, 2006

Europe: Are EU Measures Aimed at Increasing Employment Older Workers Delivering?

Anne-Sophie Parent, director of AGE, writes that while--following the adoption of the EU framework directive 2000/78, at which policy makers became aware of the complex issue of age discrimination--ambitious targets were set in the framework of the Lisbon strategy and all member states decided to do something to keep workers in the workforce for longer, this approach has usually not delivered the expected results. For example, draft legislation in Germany, which would have allowed employers to hire workers aged over 52 under limited contracts without any restriction, was deemed to constitute age discrimination and forbidden by the European courts.
In other countries, active labour market policies targeting the over 50s succeeded in increasing the employment rate of older workers: Finland, for example, whose active ageing policy is delivering very significant outcomes.

So, what lessons can we draw from the limited experience gathered so far on measures to promote the employability of older workers?

We feel that labour legislation should aim at compensating the age factor in such a way that it becomes neutral for both employers and workers.

This means creating incentives for both employers and workers without being detrimental.
Parent beleives that "an age-friendly culture needs to be promoted both inside and outside the labour market. Awareness needs to be raised on the value of a diverse workforce which reflects the diversity of today’s EU population."

Source: "EU Employment Week: Reflecting Europe’s diversity" (May 17, 2006)

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