Positive discrimination of employees over the age of 50

The employment of elderly individuals is becoming an increasingly relevant topic, as older individuals outweigh the young as the populace ages. Life expectancy is improving and retirement ages are increasing. This means that employees over the age of 50 must be able to work not only for at least another ten years, but also to maintain their job position, which at present can be very difficult. Employers prefer young, productive, reliable and loyal employees. It is evident that young people are indispensable; nonetheless, employees over the age of 50 still have something to offer. How do Czech citizens view the employment of individuals over the age of 50? Should they be seen as a group that should have certain work advantages in their employment?

In April 2013, the Institute for Evaluations and Social Analyses (INESAN) carried out a research survey entitled “Attitudes of Czech citizens towards employing individuals over the age of 50”, which aimed at identifying and describing the attitudes and opinions of Czech citizens in regard to the employment of individuals over 50 years old. During the research survey, a total of 1,207 interviews were carried out with respondents, who were selected using the quota sampling method in order to represent the general population from age 18 to 64 in regard to sex, age, education, region and size of place of residence. The survey studied the attitudes of individuals towards the role of the state in the issue of employing the elderly. In addition, it focused on people’s attitudes towards support for employing the elderly and the retired and the characteristics, abilities and skills of people over age 50 in relation to their engagement in the work process.

One of the statements with which interviewed respondents either agreed or disagreed offers an answer to the question above. Results of the completed analysis showed that more than half of the respondents (55%) agree that people over the age of 50 should not have any special advantages in employment. Significant differences are evident primarily in terms of respondents’ age. A total of 60% of individuals under the age of 30 agree that employees older than 50 should not be given any special advantages or exceptions. This result may be affected to a certain degree by the fact that young people see the elderly as potential competition in their search for a suitable job. Older employees have much more experience and longer practice than e.g. graduates. Distinct differences are visible also in terms of respondents’ place of residence. People from Prague agree with the statement much more often (a total of 70%) than the remainder of Bohemia and Moravia, where agreement is comparable (50%). The capital city of Prague offers significantly more job opportunities and high wages; at the same time, however, it is a highly competitive environment with tens of applicants for one job position. Giving preference to a certain group of employees, although positive, could have the opposite effect in this case.

People with wages up to 18,000 CZK per month significantly disagree with this statement (a total of 60%), as they tend to be affected by revenue loss more often, especially if they are over the age of 50 and are still far from the age of retirement.

Graph: “People over the age of 50 should not be given any special advantages or exceptions in employment”

The results of the survey show that the tendency towards positive discrimination of employees over the age of 50 is not preferred at present, and preference is given to the market and the competitive environment. However, this trend can be a problem into the future, as the consequences of population aging (e.g. health, economic, political) are already evident today.