People above a certain age face discrimination in staying, entering or re-entering the labour market in Europe. Their competencies are looked down and they are often the first ones made redundant when the number of staff members is being reduced. Age is also an important factor in the context of career and promotions, as well as working conditions.
According to research carried out in Italy, age is a more frequent ground of discrimination than sex. In the United Kingdom, workers aged 50 and over are the most affected by the recent job losses. According to the figures provided by the Office for National Statistics, unemployment for this age group has hit a 17-year peak of 432,000.
In the current context of the economic crisis, when losing their jobs, older workers have hardly any chances of finding another one, which undermines their capacity to provide for themselves and their families. Not only they are not yet entitled to a retirement pension but they will also be negatively affected by the decision of many governments to postpone retirement age. In addition, those who do not have previous work experience find it nearly impossible to enter the labour market for the first time.
While many Council of Europe member States are reforming their labour law and policy in order to cope with the consequences of the economic crisis, it is particularly timely for the Parliamentary Assembly to address the issue of age discrimination at work and on the labour market, so as to propose concrete solutions to be taken into account at national level.