Press Centre

ASDA TO SCRAP ‘DATE OF BIRTH’ ON JOB APPLICATION FORMS

ASDA announced today (Monday 28th August) that it will no longer ask people applying for a job at any of its 308 stores across the UK to give their date of birth on their application form. 

The move is further evidence of the supermarket’s commitment to take on colleagues of all ages, from 16 to 70+, and reinforces the fact that age does not play any part in its recruitment process. 

This goes beyond new age discrimination legislation which will come into effect on 1st October 2006. 

Whilst the new regulations seek to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of age, they do not go so far as to prevent employers asking candidates how old they are when applying for a job, neither do they scrap the mandatory retirement age.  This still leaves people over 65 without the right to choose whether they carry on working. 

ASDA believes the regulations should go further, to make it illegal for employers to turn people down for a job on the grounds of their age or to force workers to retire at 65, the state pension age. 

ASDA is one of the UK’s biggest private sector employers of the over 50s, with more than 30,000 older workers amongst its colleagues. 

The supermarket has no official retirement age or process, and gives colleagues the right to carry on working until whatever age they choose – there is no presumption that any colleague will leave their employment or cut back their hours when they hit 65.   

David Smith, people director at ASDA, said: "We simply don’t see the point in asking people for their age when it’s completely irrelevant to our recruitment process. 

"We take on the best personality for the job, regardless of when they were born.  Our oldest recruit was over 80 when they joined us and they’re living proof that age isn’t a barrier at ASDA. 

“We also have thousands of colleagues working for us who are beyond the traditional retirement age of 65, and many of these are people who’ve had successful careers in other industries but been forced into retirement. 

"We’re now reaping the benefits as they enjoy a second career in retail.” 

Ailsa Ogilvie, Director of Heyday, the membership organisation for people thinking about, approaching or in retirement, welcomed the news: “At Heyday we are pleased that ASDA is taking a lead in not asking job candidates for their ages and, like a number of other businesses, recruits and retains staff beyond the state pension age. 

"Our research shows that as many as 58% of people in their 50s and 60s want to work on either full time or part time, and that mature workers are good for business and good for the economy.   

“What a pity that the Government is intending to maintain a Mandatory Retirement Age of 65 in its new ‘anti-discrimination’ laws this October.  At Heyday we believe forced retirement should be scrapped – making companies like ASDA the norm, rather than the exception.” 

ASDA operates a number of flexible working packages to support older workers, such as Grandparents’ Leave (for those wanting to take time off on the birth of a grandchild) and There 2 Care Leave (for those who need time away from work to care for a sick or elderly family member or friend). 

Flexible working hours are also available for colleagues if they would prefer to work fewer hours or shifts as they get older. 

Posted in Press Centre on 28 August 2006