Entrepreneurs attack age discrimination laws

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British businesses are defying the government's attempts to impose age discrimination legislation upon them, a survey suggests.

Research conducted by entrepreneur think-tank The Tenon Forum suggests that 26 per cent of entrepreneurs continue to ask interviewees for their dates of birth, despite the fact that this request contravenes last year's Equality Act and other recently introduced government regulations.

Part of this ongoing defiance may be related to the fact that 70 per cent of entrepreneurs think employees now hold the balance of power over their employers.

"Entrepreneurs are broadly in favour of measures which protect employees, but our findings show they feel under pressure from increasing workplace legislation," Tenon's director of business services, Michaela Johns, said.

She said those at the Department of Trade and Industry should "be wary of developing the kind of stringent employment laws which have strangled many businesses on the continent and instead build a climate which enables enterprise to flourish".

The government insists that people should not be automatically ruled out of jobs simply on the grounds of their age, sex, race or sexuality.

But entrepreneurs are convinced that imposing further restrictions on their freedom to recruit whom they wish will damage the UK economy's competitiveness.

Forty-five per cent of the Tenon survey's respondents said they found it difficult or very difficult to recruit suitable employees for their businesses.

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