Pensioner wants age laws changed

A 69-YEAR-OLD hospital receptionist who has been told he cannot continue working after he turns 70 has claimed he is a victim of age discrimination.John Howaard-Fletcher, known as JR, said Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust's ruling - that he is too old to go on working - is a “technicality” which flies in the face of common sense and draft European law.

A 69-YEAR-OLD hospital receptionist who has been told he cannot continue working after he turns 70 has claimed he is a victim of age discrimination.

John Howaard-Fletcher, known as JR, said Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust's ruling - that he is too old to go on working - is a “technicality” which flies in the face of common sense and draft European law.

Mr Howaard-Fletcher, of Beeches Road, Chelmsford, said: “The policy was made years ago but just because it's a policy doesn't mean it is a good policy. “This is a form of prejudice and we should eliminate it.”

European age discrimination rules will become UK law in 2006 - too late for Mr Howaard-Fletcher.


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Mr Howaard-Fletcher, who has worked for the health service as a porter since 1989 and as a receptionist at St John's Hospital in Chelmsford since January 2000, is taking legal advice and approaching his MP and MEP.

The trust did agree to grant a five-year extension when Mr Howaard-Fletcher reached 65, but they have insisted that he must retire at 70, despite his offer to have a full medical to reassure bosses he is fit to carry on doing the job.

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Mr Howaard-Fletcher said the trust's decision is absurd. He added: “As a receptionist, I see people much younger than me - but not half as fit - coming into hospital every day.”

But the trust issued Mr Howaard-Fletcher with a letter on February 28, confirming its position.

In a statement, the trust said: “In line with our long-service and retirement policy, employment beyond the normal retirement age of 65 can only be extended for a maximum of five years.”

A spokeswoman added that although the trust was sympathetic, it did not want to comment further at this stage.

A spokesman for Age Positive, a Government organisation set up to challenge discrimination against older employees, said the issues raised by the case were important for thousands of older people and businesses across the country.

She added that until draft European legislation passed into UK law, an employer's common sense was often all that employees who want to go on working after normal retirement age had to rely on.

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