TAEN Calls for Formal Investigation into Recruitment Agency Ageism

TAEN has written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission asking for a formal investigation into allegations of ageism by recruitment agencies.

The move follows Channel 4’s Dispatches ‘Too Old To Work’ programme broadcast earlier this week. Three professionals aged over 50 described in the programme the alleged ageism they had faced from recruitment agencies - from having their CV’s ‘lost in the system’ to being talked out of applying for posts or being asked coded questions that relate to how ‘dynamic’ and ‘energetic’ they are.

To test whether recruitment agencies do discriminate against older candidates, Dispatches carried out an experiment - pitching two accountants, a 57-year-old father and his 25-year-old daughter, in a contest to see who coulde achieve the most offers of work via agencies. The father had 30 years of accounting experience whilst his daughter was still a trainee. They registered with the same agencies and kept video diaries of their progress, which recorded their very different levels of success.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation, the largest trade body representing employment agencies, responded to the programme saying that it took the programme’s anecdotal evidence of age discrimination very seriously and that the issue was covered by its members’ Code of Professional Practice.

Chris Ball, TAEN’s Chief Executive commented:

“The programme reiterated what we hear from more mature job candidates every day – and what our own recent survey of older jobseekers confirmed.

“The programme illustrated that despite the Age Regulations, older job applicants continue to be rebuffed long before their CV gets anywhere near a potential employer with such expressions as ‘too qualified’, ‘too senior’, ‘too experienced’, ‘you’d probably be bored in the job’, or ‘there’s a cultural mismatch.’ We all know that these expressions are simple code for ‘you’re too old’.

“It’s bad enough that we’re in a recession – but it’s a tragedy if older jobseekers don’t even get the chance to have their CVs go in front of employers that are still recruiting, because some recruitment consultants are both metaphorically and literally ’ binning ’ them. We want the EHRC to use its powers to investigate this continuing scandal.”

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