Age discrimination rife in accountancy

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A new survey by shows a massive majority of accountants believe advancing years will do nothing to advance your career. A damning 79% of respondents said that age discrimination was an ugly professional reality, and 74% said they believed accountants had missed out on a promotion because of it.

A whole batch of prejudices also raised their head, with gender (74%), disability (68%) and social background (68%) also considered barriers to success. Over a third of respondents believed they had personally missed out on a promotion because of their age, and over a quarter because of their sex. A further 22% said their general appearance alone had cost them a job.

Whilst over half of those surveyed were aware their company had an anti-discrimination policy in place, nine in 10 ac...

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02nd Jun 2008 11:34

Don't rely on the DDA.
The DDA is the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
When making a claim for unfair dismissal, it is necessary for an employee to have been continuously employed by the employer for at least one year. But this minimum period of employment does NOT apply to a range of dismissals such as those deemed to be automatically unfair and includes disability discrimination where no minimum period of employment is required. Indeed, a claim can be made for disability discrimination (or sex[***], race, sexual orientation, etc) even before a contract of employment comes into existence.
An unfair dismissal claim must be presented to an employment tribunal within three months of the act complained of: s.111(2)(a), Employment Rights Act 1995. Time can be extended by a further three months under the dispute resolution Regulations (Reg15(2) if a procedure of some kind is still continuing.)
Successful claims for disability discrimination, like those for discrimination on the grounds of gender, are among the highest awards of compensation - something that may well appeal to accountants particularly if they are thinking about setting themselves up in business on their own account; a route often necessary if they cannot get a satisfactory reference from their former employers... although they might have a further claim for post-termination discrimination!

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By Anonymous
31st May 2008 14:47

Don't rely on DDA!
When I was taken on by my last employer I fully informed him that I sufferred from epliepsy. All went fine for about 6 months but within a couple of weeks of my having a seizure in the office I was asked to leave. Out of anger I consulted on DDA but due to my being there less than a year I was told it was totally ineffective. In any case because he had wrote me a letter claiming my incompetence to prepare simple accounts I was told I was on sticky ground. I am an FCA and have been chartered for 25 years. I would say it was v. versa!
In actual fact he did me a favour as it was the push I needed to set up in practice on my own. Wish I had done it >20 years ago now.

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By Supotco
30th May 2008 09:18

Jenny, I am so sorry this happened to you.

I took ATT in 2000 and CTA in 2003 on computer since I have some grip in my hand but not enough for 3 hours of writing. I have a connective tissue disorder and the situation is extremely unlikely to improve - did my degree finals in 1998 on the computer and actually dictated some of my first year papers since was too ill to type.

The ATT and CIOT did ask for doctors' letters and so on and I had to go to HQ in London, and have an invigilator all to myself, but certainly they let me do it without my having to make much of a fuss. However, I most certainly would have made one if necessary and I imagine my then employers would have backed me up.

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By Anonymous
28th May 2008 16:43

I can totally relate to the survey
As a youngster I was told nobody would take me seriously until I was getting on for 30.

As a senior trainee I found out that a younger male colleague was paid £4k more than me even though I eventually qualified before him. I was told that I would have to do my finals under my own steam unless I deferred it until after the guy had taken his finals, and if I did defer it I would get all the financial help and study leave I needed. That sounded like a dare to me - so I did it myself and qualified before the guy. Then I was told there was no position for a qualifed so I left. 6 months later he qualified and was given his own portfolio of clients. Work that one out!!

As a newly qualifed, an older male employer told me I'd never make it as an accountant and I should find a new career - because I didn't show enough deference!

So what did I do? Got my practising certificate and started my own practice from scratch and am doing really well now.

The barrier to success would have been in my own mind if I had let these people deter me from achieving my goals.

I appreciate that not everyone is as strong minded as me, but there really should be something within the professional bodies for members, students and employees who need support when they find themselves in this position. Its about time the profession caught up with developments within HR and acted more responsibly and treating employees with respect.

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28th May 2008 15:52

Age Discrimination.
It seems that many accountants haven't yet figured out that there is legislation to provide for equality of treatment in employment, namely the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006; i.e. direct age discrimination is prohibited by Reg.3(1)(a).
Likewise, Jenny Greene asks whether accountancy bodies should do something to help candidates like her cope with their disabilities when taking their examinations. Answer: have a look at the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in which employees, workers and others - as well as users of services - are protected from discrimination on the ground of their disability - in her case, there is a legal obligation by the examination body in question to take steps which are reasonable to remove the disadvantage that she experienced because of her disability (The disability has to be one that meets the statutory definition of a disability). But to gain the benefit and protection of the law you need to make a claim.
Finally, I don't really need to tell you this because you will already know, but many accountants fail to get the job they want, not because their lack the necessary skills (i.e. they pass the suitability test) but because they fail the acceptability test, (i.e. they are perceived by the employer as not being likely to 'fit in' for reasons of class, race, gender,ect with the employer's particular culture or existing staff. )

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28th May 2008 09:41

That's what I like to see

Not clairvoyant just seems to me like instead of wallowing in self pity you realised that for every event there is opportunity.

Great story.

I just hope that (ironically) the Age Discrimination Act does not work against your business.

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27th May 2008 13:31

And not just accountants.
It also applies to the recruitment consultants who find the applicants. From past experience these are far worse than the accountants. Also most consultants I have dealt with are female and young !

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23rd May 2008 21:53

Applauding the survey
I agree with the survey, not only is age a discriminatory factor in accountancy in the workplace as you get older, but disability as well
All Accountancy bodies should open the way for people with disabilities no matter what age to get a chance to work in this field. Why? I had to leave my acccountancy role last year because of illness, I was studying my last accounts course, exams to be taken January this year, I asked the accountancy body if they could make some sort of provision for me, (couldn't grip a pen to write) to take the exam by computer etc, they took my exam fee, but made no provision for me.
Not able to write effectivelybecause of my condition, there was a lot of writing to do, I left the exam is dispair, couldn't cope with the wrting.
If a disable person wants to work in accountancy, where is the provision by all accountancy bodies to help that person, if they cannot write for long periods of time,but can use a computer to carry out the work, should the accountancy body refuse to help? I am on my way to recovery now, and hope I will be able to resit the exam in the future.
The accountancy bodies should look within themselves as well, and not discriminate against age or disabilities of accountants in any way.

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