The BBC recently got itself into hot water by trying to revamp Countryfile by replacing established presenter Miriam O'Reilly, aged 51, with 40-year-old Julia Bradbury. The BBC argued that the presenter was replaced due to the presenting skills of the individuals and not their age or sex. The BBC also tried to rely on the fact that having 68-year-old John Craven presenting with a younger female presenter represented the diversity of its audience. However, there was a widespread view that the BBC believed that people would rather see a younger female presenting the show and the BBC was found guilty of age and sex discrimination.
However, the alternative of waiting until someone is old enough to be forcibly retired is no longer an option for employers seeking a change of personnel either. The Government has now confirmed that the default retirement age (DRA) will be abolished on 1 October 2011. The last date on which employees can be compulsorily retired using the DRA is 30 September 2011. This means that an employer must serve the six months' notice required by the default retirement provisions on employees by 30 March 2011.
With people living longer and our perception of age changing, what does all this mean for employers? Is age going to be the hot topic for 2011?