A question of age

4th November 2005 at 00:00
I am getting increasingly annoyed about references to my age made by younger colleagues. I have been teaching since the 1970s and I'm no spring chicken, but I have no plans to retire at this stage and am confident that I could work effectively beyond retirement age. As the staffroom fills up with younger and younger people, I am beginning to feel rather isolated. A comment made the other day about needing a stroller was, I felt, out of order. If this remark had been made by a close colleague it might have been funny - but I hardly know this individual and I was not happy, even though I laughed it off.

In the past few years, considerable steps have been taken to ensure that the workplace is free of discriminatory remarks and "bullying". At present, the law focuses on issues of sex, race and disability. In 2006, this will extend to age discrimination. A comment such as the one you mention would constitute a definite breach of this future law. Under this law, employers will have to give proper consideration to an employee's wish to work beyond the age of 65. Perhaps it will also help those new to the profession who are faced with job applications that state "10 years' experience in teaching", clearly a criterion much harder for a younger teacher to meet, and which could also be construed as indirectly discriminatory.

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