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The Caterer

New age legislation will cause confusion

02 November 2006
New age legislation will cause confusion

My sympathies are entirely with John Gater in respect of the new age discrimination legislation (Caterer, 26 October, page 18).

I fear many hospitality employers will encounter similar practical problems in applying this latest Brussels-inspired nonsense.

It seems to be typical of many of the initiatives pushed through by this Government which focuses on politically correct objectives without taking into account many of the practical ramifications. These laws often don't actually achieve their objectives either.

In our world of recruitment, here's one example of the nonsensical results of this legislation. We've had to immediately remove all note of age off our applicants' details in order to comply with the new act. We now have the idiotic circumstances whereby a candidate with a relatively common name such as, say, Paul Smith calls us and wants to reactivate his file. We have 39 Paul Smiths on our database, along with many other similar cases, and most don't have a middle name either.

It's extremely difficult to identify the correct person as, until recently, the only information one needed to ask was "what's your date of birth?" Even checking a person's address may not help as they may have moved since last registering. The only solution is for the consultant to go through the job history of all 39 candidates until they manage to locate a match to the caller - obviously a marvellous use of their time. We have more than 150,000 candidates registered on our system, so there's potential for a lot of confusion.

One cannot even use a whole range of adjectives such as "dynamic", "energetic" or "experienced" in case of possible discrimination.

Combine this with the reality that reference-taking is now an almost pointless exercise and it means the selection of the appropriate person for the job has become ever more difficult. I fail to see how this new legislation will achieve its purpose and help prevent discrimination. I would be interested to hear from readers about other idiotic ramifications of this law.

Roddy Watt
Chief executive officer, The Berkeley Scott Group,Godalming, Surrey

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