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Is it relevant to study employment discrimination of seniors?

16.03.11 | Maria Kolokolova, Svetlana Scherban
Is it relevant to study employment discrimination of seniors?
The demographic situation in Ukraine has been remaining unsatisfactory for last two decades, and all predictions for future suggest that Ukrainian nation will be reduced and aged significantly to 2025. The aging population problem leads to another problem the pressure on the labor market. According to the sociologists estimations, today for 100 working there are 86.2 pensioners, and to 2025 these parts will be equal. Not only absences of effective demographic state policy prevents from solve of such difficult situation, but also there are unsettled problems on optimization of labor market, overcome of unemployment and age discrimination. Today, according to the official statistics, there is more then half a million of registered unemployed in Ukraine, a total number of unemployed amount to 1.8 million people, among which one-third are 45-59 years old people. Representatives of this age group have the biggest living and professional experience, but because of number of reasons they are outside of labor market. One of the reasons is age discrimination. Researches show that its very difficult to get a job for people older then 45 years, especially officially; therefore people of this age group agree for low-paid job without any contracts, privileges, benefits, social insurances, paid leaves and so on. The problem lies not only in objectively low competitiveness of older generation comparing with young, but also in many stereotypes and preconceived attitude to seniors by employers.
Actuality of problem is conditioned of proposed labor legislation changes. Question of pension age increase has been one of the most debatable for last several months. According to the Trade Unions Confederation of Ukraine, the pension reform, which is proposed by the Government, would allow to reduce the deficit of Pension Foundation only on 5 %. Of course there are other opinions, but few people pay attention to consequences of pension reform for seniors. The raising of pension age will lead to rise of competition on the labor market, and seniors will suffer more, because they will be demanded less than youth, who has modern education and necessary knowledge in contemporary professional spheres.
Problems of abuse of the seniors rights, their discrimination in employment sphere, dismissal, and in work process are discussed on forums and in journalists articles very actively. But in what measure has been employment discrimination of seniors investigated on a scientific level?
From time to time in the world sociological researches of problems of discrimination are conducted on the whole and employment discrimination in particular.
Thus, as a results of research of the International employment agency, which was conducted in 28 countries, approximately 50 % polled in the Commonwealth of Independent State people, answered that they faced discrimination at employment. Among them 53 % seniors marked, that this was age discrimination.
The International Labour Organization does not avoid this problem either. In 2007 year the report of ILO was published Equality in the sphere of labour: responds and challenges, which was devoted the new forms of discrimination at employment. At that experts paid significant attention exactly ageism.
There is an experience of similar researches in Russia too. In 2008 year the research of discrimination on the sphere of labour was conducted by the Center of social and labour rights. Conducting the analysis of advertisements on employment, researchers discovered that 44 % from them had discriminatory requirements to age.
This problem is studied also among employers. In 2006 year in Russia by the Center of marketing and sociological researches of Skilled House Super Job during questioning 200 employers, such question was put them: How do you consider, what from the followings factors more than other influences on a refuse at employment of people more senior than 45 years?. Answers were displayed existent stereotype presentations of seniors. Thus, 22 % employers named such factor, as difficulties in study, soviet mentality was found on the second place (19 %), and 15, 5 % the polled marked less capacity of people after 45 years.
In Ukraine, research and public organizations also conduct investigations in the field of labour, which concern different types of labour discrimination, more often gender, professional, ethnic and so on.
Thus, in 2006 the study of some aspects of employment discrimination was organized by ACO "Care about seniors in Ukraine" within the project "Advocacy for seniors in Ukraine." In 2008 this problem among others was studied by the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, together with 18 partner human rights organizations.
Both studies identified a certain layer of problems, which associated with discrimination against older and elderly in Ukraine. Thus, according to researchers, the survey revealed a widespread age discrimination, to overcome which theoretically state and public organizations should work. Most frequently discrimination against pensioners and young people was mentioned, sometimes - children.
"According to focus groups conducted in the research of KHRG, age limits for employment are the most common among discriminatory practices. Refusal practice in reception on a post too young deprives them of opportunity to learn to work. Too "old", i.e. people over 50, 40 or even 30 years are denied employment, because those who have an experience of working are manipulated and imposed confused displays of corporate loyalty harder. Fairly often the desire to employ or not employ a certain category of persons is caused by personal phobias of the head and deprived a scientific substantiation", - noted the researchers.
But even this large study had not made an object to provide solutions of the problem of labor discrimination, and has provided only general information on this subject.
Besides sociological researches, in 2006 monitoring the media was conducted by West Ukrainian Center "Womens Perspectives" within the project "Overcoming gender and age discrimination in the labor market in Ukraine: training and action program". Its purpose was to identify what place the media gave to the problems in the labor market in general, how much widely the problem of employment discrimination was shined, in which context information about the discrimination by age and gender was supplied. Thus, there were 113 advertisements with age discrimination, which accounted for 25.6% of all ads.
In 2010 our Institute has begun studying this problem too. The Project Employment discrimination against aged people survey on the example of Kharkiv Region supported by the International Renaissance Foundation, provides implementation of the mass poll and focus groups with seniors, individual depth interviews with people who have suffered from discrimination, experts of regional and city centers of employment, as well as the content-analysis of employment ads.
For today interviews with specialists from Kharkiv Regional Employment Center and seniors who suffered from discrimination have been held. Their results show very interesting situation: seniors tell about facts of their rights violation compared with other age groups, while specialists from the Center of employment dont see this problem absolutely. Despite the fact that employers limit employees age in their advertisements, and older people get a job as sellers, security guards, janitors and cleaners, there is no discrimination, - specialists from the Center say. It shows, above all, a rather controversial interpretation of the phenomenon of discrimination.
Summarizing our review, it should be noted that this problem is certainly relevant. On the state level the question of seniors employment discrimination is also realized, and attempts to solve it are implemented. In October 2010 the Draft Law On the prevention of discrimination against persons aged and elderly in Ukraine was handed to the Parliament of Ukraine. Time will tell what will be the results of implementing this law, if adopted, but now we can already say that overcoming this problem only with state sanctions is impossible. Effective solve of the employment discrimination must be based on different approaches: there are economical encouragement to employers, general information policy for aged people to protect their labor rights, improving the professional training and retraining programs and others.