Co-op a champion for age equality

The Co-operative Group, has been awarded Age Positive Employer Champion status by the Department for Work and Pensions initiative promoting age equality at work.

The Co-operative Group, has been awarded Age Positive Employer Champion status by the Department for Work and Pensions initiative promoting age equality at work.

Latest legislation makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees because of their age. A national default retirement age of 65 means that employers can no longer force someone to retire before then.

But the Co-operative Group has gone one step further and removed its contractual retirement age altogether.

Employees can choose to continue working past 65 if they wish to do so and currently the group has 793 employees over 65 and around 11,300 employees over 50.


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James Purnell, Minister of State for Pensions Reform, praised the efforts of the Co-op.

“By recognising the benefits of employing workers regardless of their age, employers like the Co-op attract and retain enthusiastic, experienced and well-trained staff,” he said.

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“We recognise that we have an ageing popu-lation, with many older people who want the choice to continue working rather than retire.

“Older workers have a low rate of absenteeism and are highly motivated. We believe that this has a positive impact for businesses, which can benefit from a more flexible workforce with a wider range of skills and abilities."

Martin Beaumont, group chief executive of the Co-op, said: "I am delighted that we have been recognised as an Age Positive employer champion.

“Through actions such as the removal of our retirement age and training for our managers, we have worked to ensure that our employees are judged on ability alone and no other factor.

“I'm particularly pleased that our efforts have been recognised and we will continue to develop our policies to remain an employer of choice for people of all ages."

Amanda Jones, head of diversity at the Co-op, said: “We believe it simply doesn't make sense to retire an employee because of their age - all that should matter is our people's capability to do their job. We have taken age out of how we view our people.”

The group has redesigned its job application forms so that date of birth is not visible to recruitment managers, and 'age-proofed' the way it assesses people by focusing on the performance and contribution of staff rather than how old they are.

The organisation also uses a performance management process which takes into consideration not only how well someone has performed but how they went about doing it.

Further information can be found on the Age Positive website at www.agepositive.gov.uk

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