Smile…it’s World Happy Day! Smile. World Happy Day, is a reason to be cheerful despite what may be going on in some darker corners of the world. To celebrate thousands of people will try to spread a little good cheer by sharing their views on Happy, a short movie examination of the emotion from Oscar…
The government has tried to answer the age old question about when youth, middle age and old age start and end.
The last is easy to answer, as presumably old age ends with someone’s life, but responses to the other questions is less clear and very much depends on – wait for it… how old you are.
The Department of Work and Pensions is looking at attitudes to age – and concludes age discrimination is ‘deep rooted’ in society.
The report comes hot on the heels of similar research by the European Union as governments across the EU look at way to try and fund retirement for a population with more older people living for longer.
The survey Attitudes to Age in Britain revealed on average, old age starts at 59 in Britain, while youth ends at 41.
The figure ranges from those aged 25 or under believing youth ends at 32 and old age begins at 54, while those over over 80 believe that youth ends at 52 while old age starts at 68.
Pensions minister Steve Webb is urging everyone to change their attitude to aging.
“The idea that we are ‘old’ at 59 belongs in the era of Downton Abbey – not in 2012,” he said.
“People are living longer, working longer and contributing more in their later lives. This is great news and it is important that our perceptions of age keep up with the reality of our increasing longevity.”
The survey findings showed one in three people experienced some form age discrimination in the past year.
One in seven people feel working for a boss in their 70s is “unacceptable”, while just one in 20 felt the same about a boss in their 30s.
The DWP said that an ageing population presents a number of challenges to society, especially social exclusion, that leaves older people feeling “isolated and excluded from opportunities”.
The Equality Act is a waste of money and has no tangible benefit other than giving some do-gooders a misplaced feeling of well-being, claims a think-tank.
The hard-nosed comments are from a report in to the impact of the law by social and religious commentator Civitas.
In the report, Assessing The Damage, by Nigel Williams, argues that efforts to protect the disadvantaged from discrimination in the workplace saving the government up to £85 million a year are ‘spurious’ and will probably lead to more job losses.
The report is part of the group’s continuing campaign against the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
In August, another report complained the EHRC ‘contributed little to meaningful equality.’
In the latest report, Civitas explains that putting a value on the law is inappropriate as the outcome is an idealogical gain rather as to meet the goal, the EHRC would have to prove equality had improved.
“The claims for the 2010 Equality Act are immense. There are a few initial costs, followed by massive annual gains; social evils may be reduced while contributing to the economy at the same time. With a little scrutiny, however, the balance of benefits over costs vanishes very rapidly,” says the report.
“No money is produced or saved. The estimate is just of the feeling of well-being coming from a belief that differences between people have been reduced. The value is ideological, nothing more.”
The report goes on to argue that the cost savings are ‘illusory’ as are contestable, but the costs are real and likely to be larger than the Equality Act Impact Assessment estimates.
Two examples are given –
- That the impact assessment costs the time on the assumption staff would take only eight work-hours at each small and medium-sized business to read, digest and disseminate 800 pages of guidance
- Costs of adapting housing for the disabled could be zero, while the benefits add up to £10 million. This assumes that no extra work at all can still produce substantially improved accommodation.
“The annual consequences of this legislation will serve not to pay back the costs, but to add to them. The ideological benefits of the Equality Act are debatable at best. The financial benefits simply do not exist,” says the report.
This article is filed under: Gender, marital status Discrimination, Diversity, Housing, Leadership, Minorities, women, mothers faimly work-life balance
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Employers are failing workers with mental health issues as stress issues soar to make long-term absenteeism a real problem for many organisations.
Few workers feel confident about discussing their mental health with their managers, according to a new report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and mental health charity Mind.
Six out of 10 workers would keep a mental health problem secret, the findings showed, while 25% of workers have suffered a mental health problem while in work.
Just one in four workers claim their employer’s are open to talk about mental health issues, while only 37% reckon their employer offers good support to workers with mental health issues.
To help, CIPD has compiled a workplace guide to handling mental health problems, called Managing and supporting mental health at work – disclosure tools for managers. [LINK: http://www.cipd.co.uk/publicpolicy/_mentalhealthatwork ]
Other findings from the report include:
• Women are more likely to talk about mental health at work (31%) than men (22%).
• A quarter of workers say their current mental health is moderate (21%) or poor (4%) while 41% describe it as good and 33% that say it is very good.
• People working in the voluntary sector (39%) and public sector (37%) are significantly more likely than those in the private sector (23%) to say they have experienced a mental health problem in employment.
The CIPD’s Ben Willmott said: “Managing mental health at work is central to good business performance. Stress is the number one cause of long-term sickness absence, but it is not just time lost to absence which impacts on the bottom line.
“Our survey highlights that the majority of people with poor mental health continue to attend work and report that it can impact on their ability to concentrate, make good decisions and provide effective customer service. It is estimated that this presenteeism costs UK businesses £15.1 billion per year in reduced productivity, while mental health related sickness absence costs £8.4 billion.”
The long arm of the law is reaching out to scrutinise police chiefs for sacking 90 officers because of their age.
The officers are challenging a decision under age discrimination provisions of the Equality Act to sack them to save money because they have 30 years on the beat.
Devon and Cornwall Police is considering axing the posts of up to 600 officers and 500 civilian support staff to save £47 million over the next four years.
At the same time, the force has celebrated an award for equality and diversity training for police sergeants.
The Police Federation, which represents the officers, says the thin blue line in the West Country is getting thinner because the force is trying to use a rule aimed at individuals to manage mass redundancies.
Federation spokesman Nigel Rabbitts said: “We’re asking the police authority to think again and that they should put a hold to these job losses, pending the result of these claims. The rule was never designed for mass compulsory retirement, it was for individuals, and the authority hasn’t shown these individuals clear reasons why they need to be retired.”
Thousands of other police officers face the sack under the same rule at forces across England and Wales.
Meanwhile a revamped equality and diversity training programme has boosted attendance on courses soar from 6% to 96%.
Niema Burns, the force’s equality and diversity training manager, said that the former five-day course was unpopular with staff, so the course was redesigned to better meet training needs.
“There was a perception that the courses did not relate directly to any core policing business,” she said. “There was no link between the training and operational aims, and objectives around equality and diversity.”
The revised course embraced the required learning standards, while covering all diversity strands and community engagement elements. Importantly, delivery was local, cutting down time away from policing.
Life’s not fair – but lawyers hope to make things a little fairer for unmarried couples when one partner dies without making a will.
The Law Commission has urged the government to change inheritance laws to let partners who have lived together for five years or more inherit from the other if one dies without leaving a will.
The lawyers also suggest the time limit reduced to two years if an unmarried couple has a child who lives with them when one partner dies.
Under current intestacy law, unmarried partners are entitled to nothing, but can go to court to apply for a family provision. The court make an award that reflects the lifestyle of the partnership and which provides a measure of long-term security to the surviving partner.
The Law Commission wants to scrap the current arrangements included in legislation passed in 1925 to bring the law up-to-date to reflect modern lifestyles.
Around 60% of adults in England and Wales do not have a will, and over the most recent five-year period for which figures are available, more than 300,000 applications were made for a grant to administer intestate estates.
The Law Commission explains this is just the tip of the iceberg as half of estates are administered without any formal grant.
Although 7.5 million people live together outside marriage, which is around 15% of all families, the Law Commission reckons they are among the least likely to have a will.
Lawyers point out that the new draft legislation arising from the report – the Inheritance (Cohabitants) Bill – offers more security to women who are more likely to survive their partners.
Other measures from the bill include:
- Making sure assets pass to a surviving spouse if a couple is married or in a civil partnership, where there are no children or other descendants
- Protecting the inheritance of an adopted child
- Dealing with “fossil” marriages – where a couple are living apart but have never divorced. Under the new bill, the surviving cohabitant has no entitlement to any of the estate.
However, lawyers also suggest making a will is the best way to handle inheritance issues.
Human rights laws are being hijacked by ‘thoroughly bonkers’ minority groups looking to boost their self-interest– according to the UK’s human rights supremo.
Trevor Phillips, who heads up the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, argues that the laws had ‘fallen in to disrepute’ and some of the calls for prosecutions were nonsense.
Mr Phillips was speaking to mark Human Rights Day, and listed a catalogue of disputes he called ‘nonsense on stilts’, including:
- Prison service vans that travel 90 miles to take a prisoner 90 yards
- Paedophiles freed to leer at children in the very parks where they have committed horrific crimes
He also revealed he had dropped his coffee when he heard the National Secular Society wanted to use the act to prosecute councillors in Devon for saying prayers before their meetings.
“Almost every morning I am confronted with examples of how the Human Rights Act is being used which any reasonable person would describe as thoroughly bonkers,” said Mr Phillips.
“Human rights should help us better protect vulnerable people who are targeted with violence because of who they are, or who suffer because our police, local councils and courts don’t take their calls seriously or provide enough support to get them justice.
“But while we must defend human rights tenaciously, it is also essential that supporters of human rights recognise and address the reasons why these great principles have fallen into disrepute.
“For too many people nowadays human rights have come to mean the defence of the rights of unpopular minorities – of criminals, terror suspects and illegal immigrants – at the expense of everybody else.”
Meanwhile, Thomas Hammarberg, the European commissioner for human rights, also attacked government plans for a British Bill of Rights.
He claims any ‘weakening’ of the Human Rights Act would encourage autocratic governments in other countries to ignore human rights laws and undermine the efforts of other European countries.
Transgender people are the victims of bullies and criminals throughout their lives, according to a new government report.
School bullies pick on 70% of children who are uncertain of their gender, and when they leave to start work, 80% of transgender people experience harassment or victimisation, government research shows.
Add to that hate crimes against transgender people have risen by 14%, ays the government, and transgender people have a miserable time.
To help, Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone has published a three-point plan calling for:
- Health service reform to ensure greater consistency in commissioning gender identity services
- Publication of a guide for health practitioners on the treatment and care transgender people
- Tougher sentencing of punishment of murders motivated by hostility towards a transgender person from 15 to 30 years
“Too many transgender people still face prejudice at every stage of their lives, from playground bullying, to being overlooked for jobs or targeted for crime,” she said.
“I am proud to announce the first government strategy to tackle the specific barriers facing transgender people. Like everyone else, transgender people have the right to be accepted, to live their lives free of harassment, and to be free to achieve any ambition they choose.”
The announcement follows government collaboration with the transgender community,
health practitioners and the voluntary sector, which identified a number of issues which the Plan aims to address.
April Ashley, who was the first Briton to undergo sex-change surgery in 1960, said: “I think there are so many support groups out there unlike when I did my transition 52 years ago when there was no help at all. The announcement shows we are moving forward to breaking down barriers and educating people.”
Gays are still barred from same-sex civil partnership ceremonies in many churches despite a new law.
The Church of England is stalling on implementing new provisions under the Equality Act that open the doors of places of worship to same sex civil partnership ceremonies.
Churches are closed to the ceremonies unless the General Synod gives consent, said the Church of England.
Stepping down from the moral high ground, churches were compared to men’s clothing shops in a letter to the synod.
“A gentlemen’s outfitter is not required to supply women’s clothes. A children’s book shop is not required to stock books that are intended for adults. And a church that provides a facility to marry is not required to provide a facility to same-sex couples for registering civil partnerships,” said secretary general William Fittall in the letter.
The church’s legal office added that if the law changed to allow same-sex marriage rather than a civil partnership ceremony, this issue would need to be reconsidered.
The current status is no Church of England religious premises can host civil partnership registration without written permission from the synod.
The legal office of the Church says is not unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act as marriage and civil partnerships are different services and so legally distinct concepts.
Of course, this is the church’s interpretation of the law, and remains an argument which has no standing in law.
The government has indicated that no religious group would be forced to hold civil ceremonies.
The Roman Catholic Church and Methodist Church are following the Church of England in barring the ceremonies, while Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Jews have already said that they will allow the ceremonies in their places of worship.
Meanwhile, moves are under way to scrap the new rules. Tory peer Detta O’Cathain is proposing a motion in the House of Lords to hold implementing the change because the law in unclear and could trigger legal action against religious groups under the Equality Act.
Proposals to save millions of pounds by overhauling employment tribunals could undermine equality and discrimination laws.
The government wants to pull a veil of secrecy across ‘protected conversations’ between managers and workers that deal with issues like poor performance and taking retirement.
Many of these one-to-one unguarded talks form the basis of equality and discrimination cases before employment tribunals – and around a third of cases are upheld at the hearings, according to employment tribunal statistics.
Business secretary Vince Cable wants to remove anything said in these conversations as grounds to take a case to a tribunal.
He also wants to double the time an employee has to work for an employer before making a tribunal claim from 12 months to two years from April.
Other proposals included shortening the consultation period for redundancies from 90 to 30 days.
The government reckons the changes will deliver over £10 million of savings and benefit employers by £40 million.
A Business Department spokesman said: “We need to make the system simpler for employers and employees. This package will make it easier for businesses when taking on, managing and letting go their staff, while also being fair to workers.”
The unions disagree employment law is restricting growth and blame the state of the economy.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “Reducing protection for people at work will not save or create a single job. It’s not employment law that is holding firms back, it’s the tough economic climate and the problems many companies are having getting the banks to lend to them that’s to blame.
“Research from the OECD shows that there is no link between regulation and economic output – German employees have much more protection at work and their economy is the strongest in Europe.”
Another union leader believes the proposals are a charter for bullying employers to sack workers they do not like.
Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: “This agenda is being driven by the CBI, who want the balance of power in the workplace tilted even more against the ordinary worker.
“These changes will make it harder for hundreds of thousands of workers to bring cases of victimisation, unfairness and bullying at work. This will just sweep abuse under the carpet.”