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TV ageism ruling and end of forced retirement

Published on 16 January 2011 12:30 AM

TV ageism ruling and end of forced retirement are signs the tide is turning, says Age UK

Commenting on the Government's announcement that the Default Retirement Age will be scrapped this year and on the Employment Tribunal on Miriam Reilly's ageism case against the BBC, Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director of Age UK, said:

'This week, two separate announcements have given some hope that the tide is turning in the battle against ageism. The Employment Tribunal established that broadcast journalist Miriam O'Reilly was discriminated against by the BBC because of her age, prompting the corporation to issue a full apology and a promise to do better in future. Two days later the Government finally confirmed that forced retirement will end this year, in all but exceptional circumstances.

'The mindset behind ageist attitudes in the TV industry is not dissimilar to that underpinning the principle of the Default Retirement Age. Setting an official age at which people can be forced to retire sends a damaging signal to society that goes beyond the personal insecurity forced on the hundreds of thousands the law strips of employment rights. By stamping a ‘use-by' date on people's careers, it reinforces the idea that there is an age threshold at which people's contribution as workers is no longer of value and they are ready for the scrapheap.

'The truth is that there is no ‘use-by' date on talent and skills and no age limit to what people can achieve. Nearly a million people aged 65-plus are still in employment and many more are planning to stay on in work past this age when their turn comes. Dame Judi Dench was nominated for an Oscar at the age of 72, Michelangelo was 74 when appointed as chief architect of Saint Peter's Basilica, and Winston Churchill celebrated VE day at 70. Writing people off because of their age is no more justifiable than doing it in the name of race, sex or disability, and yet ageism is still a more ‘respectable' form of discrimination in our society.

'This week must mark the point of no return. The outcome of the BBC case and the Government's decision to scrap the Default Retirement Age are landmarks, but there is still a long road ahead if 21st century Britain is to be free from age-based prejudice. As we grow older we are still penalised in all walks of life, when refused insurance cover, turned down for a job or denied the healthcare that most suits our needs. Change will come by winning hearts and minds, but this week has shown that the law can overturn injustice and shine a spotlight on hidden discrimination. The Government must press on with plans for an outright ban of age discrimination in the provision of all goods, facilities and services.'

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

Age UK
Age UK works in partnership with Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI. For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.

Media contact: Stefano Gelmini
Tel: 020 8765 7514
Out of hours: 07071 243 243

Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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