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Today is one of those wonderful days where an unfortunate confluence of events means that we can see through the government’s spin and political correctness, and gawp at the real decisions being taken in Whitehall.
Today, new legislation comes into force, spun as ‘banning ageism‘:
They make it unlawful to discriminate against workers under the age of 65 on the grounds of age.
The rules will impact on recruitment, training, promotion, redundancy, retirement, pay and pension provision.
Ministers have been popping up here, there, and everywhere over the last week emphasising that not only does this rule out discrimination against older people, it also protects the young from being discriminated against in favour of the old. Which is all fine and dandy, but sadly untrue.
Giving the lie to the spin is another new piece of legislation coming into force today: An increase in the minimum wage. Despite ageism now being illegal, this continues to have three tiers. 16 and 17 year olds receive a minimum of £3.30 per hour, 18 to 21 year olds receive a minimum £4.85, whilst over 21s get £5.35.
Ageism is, apparently, outlawed, but if I were to go and get a proper job today, I could be paid 50p an hour less than somebody less than six-months my senior. From where I’m standing, that smells a lot like ageism.
So it’s fairly clear that the government’s actual target here is the older generation. By preventing employers from retiring people at sixty based on age alone, perhaps the government think that this will become the norm, before they force it to be so by raising the official retirement age. But it’s a bit of a stretch even for Nu Labour to pretend to be discouraging ageism on the same day as retaining an increasing a three-tier minimum wage.
But thank you, Tony, for showing us how to ban ageism whilst simultaneously actively promoting it. I don’t think anyone else could.