Just two per cent of retailers are ready for the new legislation that will outlaw age discrimination, according to a study by the Age Partnership Group.

The new legislation will come into force on October 1, 2006 and the main changes likely to affect retailers are around the issue of retirement.

A default retirement age of 65 will be set but employers must consider employees’ requests to work beyond the retirement age. In addition, staff over the age of 65 will have the same rights to redundancy payments as younger workers. Employers will also have to give written notice to employees at least six months before their intended retirement date

The new law means employers will need to make sure they are not guilty of age discrimination in any job ads they place.

The age discrimination law was a hot topic at CRS on the C-Store Live! platform. Panelist Ray Silverstein, a partner at Brown Jacobson, said he expected some ’bizarre cases’ to go to tribunals as a result of the new Act and he advised retailers: "Don’t leave yourselves open to being exploited. As soon as a problem emerges, get everything in writing and get some good advice."

The Age Partnership Group is a coalition of government and business organisations.

It is running the ’Be Ready’ campaign to help businesses improve their employment practices before the new legislation. Retailers can get more information about the new legislation by contacting the Age Partnership Group on 0845 715 2000.