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Employment discrimination against aged people: research results on the example of Kharkiv Region

03.10.11 | Maria Kolokolova
Today, according to the official statistics, there is about half a million of registered unemployed in Ukraine, a total number of unemployed amount to 1.9 million people, among which one-third are 45-59 years old. 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.
Just therefore in 2010-2011 the Kharkiv Institute for Social Researches held the social survey, dedicated to employment discrimination of seniors (people in age of 45-59 years old).
The following methods of data collection were used for the purposes of the survey:
Field survey in nine districts of the City of Kharkov and in thirteen towns in Kharkiv Region (total 600 respondents in age of 45-59 years old);
Content-analysis of newspaper and Internet job advertisements ;
Deep interviews and focus-groups with aged people, encountered with age discrimination in labour sphere;
Expert interviews with representatives of the Kharkiv regional employment center.
Data analysis on the all stages of research has shown, that the question of seniors discrimination in labour sphere is on a high agenda. According to the survey, age discrimination in Ukraine is at the first place (79,7%) among all possible forms of discrimination in labour area. Every third person older than 45 years is subjected to employment rights abuses because of age. Most often aged people suffer of this kind of discrimination in the course of job finding (23,5%). Also violations of employment rights of this age group occur at workplace (18,5%) and in cases of dismissal (reduction, unlawful dismissal) (2,9%).
Analysis of socio-demographical characteristics of respondents, which had met the problem of discrimination, showed that gender, family status, education level dont influence essentially on employment discrimination of aged people. That is, the most important criterion when finding a job is age. In return employment sector, in which seniors work, has essential impact on the level of their discrimination (most of all they are discriminated in the following areas: agriculture - 48.1%, the service sector - 44.2%, trade - 38.2%, light industry - 37.5%).
41.7% of elder people find it necessary to fight for their labor rights in the case of their violation, but only 9.7% of those who were encountered in their professional life with age discrimination, attempted to restore justice. The main reason for inactivity of this age group is the disbelief in what it is possible to achieve something; somehow protect their labor rights - more than half of respondents say so. The most effective way to solve the problems of violation of labor rights, according to most elder people, is attempt to negotiate with their own authorities (62.8%). At the second place in efficiency an appeal to NGOs (28.5%), and at the third - an appeal to trade unions (17.3%).
During the last year 23,4% respondents tried to find a job. Among them 80.7% felt biased attitude due to their age. The survey has shown, that most often job search is realized through friends (70,1% of cases) and through advertisement in media (63%). Every fourth senior asks for help at the employment center.
In most cases during a job search aged people feel a violation of their labor rights through advertisement for job placement. Results of content-analysis of more than 7 thousand advertisements have shown that age limitations are kept in 15% of newspaper-advertisements and in 58% Internet-advertisements. For employers the most acceptable age of job searchers is from 23 till 39 years old.
Today almost one third aged respondents doesnt work (27,1%). Every fifth of them thinks that he was retired because of biased attitude as to aged person (absolutely yes - 8,8%, rather yes - 11,7%). The main reasons of unemployment are unsolicited dismissal (23,8 %), impossibility to find suitable job (19,5%) and getting under reduction (17,3%). According to the gender distribution the number of unemployed among men is higher than among women (28,4% to 26,3%). In addition men twice often than women work at temporary job (12,5% to 6,3%).
Among all employed seniors there is very considerable percent of them, who almost or absolutely are not satisfied with their work 39,9%. The main reason of dissatisfaction of job of seniors is inadequate salary 68%. Among other reasons we can name following: lack of social guaranties (15,1%); bad work conditions (12,8%) and the fact, that work doesnt correspond to qualification and education level (12,8%); unofficial job placement 11,6% and overtime work (11%).
During work process employment rights of seniors are very often violated by the direction. Thus, almost every fifth person older than 45 years feel biased attitude from bosses, which is appeared the most often in threat of retire (32,7%); uncomfortable work graph (30,8%); salary which is inadequate to level of education, qualification, record of work (19,2%); unofficial job placement and biased attitude comparing with employees another age (by 15,4%).
The analysis of seniors opinion has allowed to define five basic reasons of discrimination of this group in the employment sector: impossibility to prove or to refute anything (35,5%); 31,9% respondents think that to take a senior on a job is not advantageous for an employer; 29,6% respondents think that such situation has been formed for a long time at labour market, and impunity and lack of sanctions for the infringement of employment rights of older people even more worsen their position at the labour-market (25,5%).
One of the main reasons of the infringement of employment rights of aged people at the labour-market is biased attitude to them by employers 31,8% of respondents.
Position of people older than 45 years at labour-market, especially those who have already met with problems when job placement, can become worse in connection with adoption of the new pension reform in Ukraine. In condition of pressure on the labor market new work force and increasing the retirement age the finding work for discriminated categories of people will be even harder than now. Because of this attitude of older people to the pension reform is most of all negative. 80,3% of respondents said that pension reform is not acceptable now.
As for goal of pension reform, most of respondents (66,4%) mentioned , that it actually neednt, its political move, also 15% seniors said that reform aims to lead to that people simply will not live till the pension age.
According seniors opinion, the most reasonable measures of decision problem of employment discrimination of this age group are following: creation of new jobs for older people (55,8% respondents); stipulating in the law prescribed sanctions in case of employment discrimination against elder people (37,3%); encouraging employers to employ elder people at the state level (35,1%); establishing at organizations, institutions, enterprises quotas for elder people (32,6%).
Thus, the overcoming of aged people discrimination at the Ukrainian labour-market is extremely important and necessary today. However, it should not be isolated actions, but comprehensive solution to the problem at national level, including the introduction of quotas for elder people, creating anti-discrimination legislation, prescription sanctions for its violation, etc., and at local level, including holding of seminars with employers to form in them equal attitude to this age categories and outline the benefits of employment; the involvement of NGOs in the creation of private centers to assist elder people in resolving employment. The only way to realize the main goal of these measures is improving the legal protection of elder people in employment sector and reducing their discrimination.