Cheeky humour in the office could prove costly to employers who don't take on board age 'neutral' practices, warns employment solicitor Christian Battelley of Black Country solicitors Waldrons Commercial.
New legislation on age discrimination being introduced in October 2006 will mean compensation claims could be huge if employers fall foul of changing rules. Even seemingly innocent jokes suggesting staff are too young or too old to do their job could give rise to claims.
Mr Battelley urges employers to start preparing for the culture change early to ensure their policies and procedures are compatible.
"Businesses will not simply become 'age neutral' overnight. Employers must revisit their harassment policies to ensure age related bullying and offensive jokes are banned." "It could even apply to an innocent birthday card suggesting the recipient has reached the age to consider erectile dysfunction drugs.
"Some will be amused by this type of behaviour, but others may find it degrading or humiliating, especially if suggestions are repeated."