New legislation ensures that employers treat staff equally, regardless of age, and that they have equal opportunities with regards to recruitment, promotion and training. The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 came into force on 1 October 2006.Employees over the age of 65 can now challenge an employer’s decision to dismiss them while those under 65 cannot be forced to retire. An employer must give 6 to 12 months’ notice to any person requesting to work after the age of 65. If less than six months’ notice is given, employees can be awarded up to eight weeks’ pay by an employment tribunal, which is limited to a maximum of £290 a week. Therefore, the maximum compensation would be £2,320.If an employee makes a written request not to retire, the employer has a duty to consider that request and is legally bound to follow the “duty to consider procedure”.The upper age limit for sick pay and redundancy has been removed, so all employees, including those over 65, are entitled to statutory redundancy pay, if this is why they are dismissed, and are entitled to sick pay for up to 28 weeks. It is illegal to use age as a reason to enforce redundancy.Sayers Confectioners, part of the Lyndale Foods group, said it has been preparing for the new laws during the past few months and has brought out an information booklet for its employees making them aware of the changes.Out of about 120 workers, approximately 10 are over 65. Debbie Young, the HR Advisor and recruiter for Sayers, said the major changes are in the form of a new application form, and making sure the correct procedure and paperwork is in place for workers over the age of 65 requesting to continue. “The advantages of looking after our elderly workforce are a lot of long-serving people who know the business well. They are important to us. The disadvantage is if performance slips, it is now harder for us to react.”positive impactSteve Dowbekin, unit manager at Warburtons’ Variety Bakery, Bolton, appeared on the BBC’s Breakfast news, Tuesday 26 September, to discuss the new laws. He said: “All employers need to be aware of them and adhere to the guidelines. From Warburtons’ point of view, we are up to speed and don’t envisage a problem.”Ellis Fairbank, a recruitment agency for the industry, is of the opinion that the legislation will have a massively positive impact on the industry by ensuring a good mix of older, experienced workers who can pass on their expertise.Rob Devlin, a recruitment specialist at Ellis Fairbank, said businesses should focus on the benefits: “There are many advantages that businesses may not be aware of; but employers will have to be more careful and embrace the laws as a progressive way of moving forward. I have valuable workers with 20 years’ experience who should in no way be discriminated against. That’s only right and fair as there is often a lot of misconception. Many talented bakers deserve the opportunity to progress within the industry,” said Devlin.”One of the huge challenges that we do face is trying to attract younger workers, of whom we have a real shortage,” he added. “Now that employers cannot recruit based on age.”At an annual conference of the National Association of Master Bakers (NA) in May, the NA board said it was exploring the option of attracting younger members and considered co-opting an under-35-year-old. The new laws complicate this search making it difficult for the NA to set an age criteria (see British Baker, 5 May, pg 8).Gill Brooks-Lonican, chief executive of the NA, stressed the importance of older workers: “There are advantages that our members express. Employers are happy to employ people who are not rushing off to pick up the children or to sort out other problems. Elderly workers often have valuable experience and are happy to work part-time.”A factor that may become an issue, said the NA, is equal training opportunities. “People in their 60s and older are entitled to the same opportunities as staff with many years of working ahead of them,” said Brooks-Lonican.grey areasGordon Polson, director of the Federation of Bakers, said the new laws will not worry or affect plant bakers to any great degree: “There’s been no discussion or concern at Federation level, and nobody has expressed that the new laws will have a detrimental effect on their business.”Kirk Hunter, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Master Bakers (SAMB), also said he did not think the laws would have a massive effect: “I do not think there is a great deal of discrimination in the industry. But there are grey areas employers will have to be aware of. They must comply with the rules and ask for advice from the NA and SAMB.”The employment rate for the over-50s was continuing to rise even before the new legislation came in, said the The Age and Employment Network (TAEN). Figures in the May to July period showed an increase in the rate for women more than offset the slight drop in the rate for men. Also, while 72% of employers believed their employees were aware, 51% of workers claimed to be unaware of the new age discrimination rules, according to research issued by employment agency Manpower, based on more than 2,100 employers and 700 workers. The report, Old Age Thinking/New Age Thinking, showed that while 64% of workers do not think they have ever been discriminated against because of age, 43% have not applied for a job because they have considered themselves too young or too old.TAEN recently launched a website, funded by the Department of Trade and Industry, for anyone looking for information about the age discrimination regulations, [http://www.agebusters.org.uk]Age Concern urged that it is important for people who feel discriminated against, or are worried about discriminating, to seek expert legal advice, and that its local branch or Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help. n—-=== The facts ===According to the new legislation, unlawful discrimination for people over the age of 50 includes: n Direct discrimination: Treating a person less favourably because of age, or age they appear to be, such as a company refusing to employ a person because they are over 50.n Indirect discrimination: A policy or practice, which puts people of certain age at a disadvantage, such as a company restricting recruitment to recent graduates. The law provides that direct and indirect discrimination can be justified and exempt in specific cases. The government said this will be hard for employers to prove.n Victimisation: When a person is treated unfairly after making a complaint of discrimination, such as a person who is dismissed after claiming they have been treated unfairly because of their age.n Harassment: Unwanted conduct, on the grounds of age, creating an intimidating, offensive or humiliating environment, such as a college making constant jokes about a person’s age. If the employee makes a written request not to retire, the employer has a duty to consider it and must follow the procedure. Employers will still be able to refuse to consider a job application from someone over 65.
Cake company Inter Link says it is no longer in talks with a possible buyer, following an earlier announcement that it had been approached.Inter Link said on 25 September that a private equity house had approached it with a view to a possible offer for the company.Exploratory early-stage discussions have now terminated and no offer is anticipated, Inter Link announced this week.Alwin Thompson, Inter Link’s executive chairman commented: “Now that these talks have terminated, we can concentrate all of our resources on the group’s increasingly important Christmas period and on delivering our ninth consecutive successful year.”
Specialist stores such as bakeries are closing at an alarming rate, but a new type of loyalty card could halt the slide.The Wedge card has been launched in Lambs Conduit Street, London, and is the brainchild of Big Issue founder John Bird and his daughter, Diana. It provides discounts and special offers from independent shops to Wedge card subscribers, but also enables customers to show their loyalty to local shops and communities.Supermarkets are barred from the scheme as no store with more than 10 branches can be a member. Instead it is intended for small independent shops.Of the £20 that customers pay for their Wedge card, £5 goes to the seller, £5 to charity and the remaining £10 to the Wedge company. The scheme is soon to be introduced to other areas of London, including Stratford, Brixton, Marylebone, Southwark, Covent Garden and Notting Hill.It is hoped that Wedge’s introduction will halt a depressing slide that the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Small Shops says could result in many small shops ceasing to trade by 2015. According to the Institute of Grocery Distribution, 2,157 independent convenience retailers closed in 2004, double the number in the year before.
Tate & Lyle, the cereal sweete-ners and starches company, has announced the sale of its Canadian sugar refining business, Redpath, to American Sugar Refining, for a net consideration of £132 million.Redpath operates a cane sugar refinery in Toronto and a packing operation in Niagara Falls in Canada. The sale is conditional upon Canadian regulatory approvals, which are expected to be resolved within 90 days.In the year to 31 March 2006, Redpath had total sales of £177m and a profit before interest and exceptional items of £18m. At 30 September, 2006, Redpath had net operating assets of £84m, according to the company.
Associated British Foods (ABF) said profits in its bakery sector were lower than last year, due to a poor performance by Allied Bakeries.Prior to entering the close period for its interim results to 3 March 2007, ABF announced last week in its Pre-Close Period Trading Update that the competitive UK bread market “delayed the recovery of increased wheat prices last autumn and volumes were lower than expected.”However, the company is hoping the re-launch of Kingsmill will strengthen Allied’s position.Profits from the sugar businesses were ahead of last year and yeast sales in all of AB Mauri’s markets have also increased.
The NA Conference fancy dress party. Left to right, Mark Connor, Anne Barnes, Christine MacSymons, Frank Andrew, Neil MacSymons, Jean Andrew, Graham Ryder, Steve Barnes, Ann Harrison; laying down is Shirley Ryder
Dean’s of Huntly has opened what is claimed to be Scotland’s first-ever shortbread visitor centre.The development, located just off the main Aberdeen-Inverness road, also includes a café-bistro and shop.Managing director Bill Dean commented: “We are currently producing shortbread 24 hours a day and visitors will get the chance to find out about its history, our company history and see how this national delicacy is made. The café and bistro will then give them a chance to sample it.” He added that the new visitor centre would hopefully “put shortbread up there with whisky and castle trails” on the tourist circuit.Dean’s produces approximately 69 million biscuits a year.
Solo Cup Europe has launched DeliLite, a range of lightweight PET containers and lids, which it says “offer superb strength, durability and clarity”.Containers are available in five versions: 217ml, 279ml, 374ml, 550ml and 700ml. There are two corresponding lids – one fits the three smaller containers while the other fits the two larger containers. The range, which is crack- and oil-resistant, comes in combination packs of containers and lids.[http://www.solocupeurope.co.uk]
Drink Me Chai has added a new flavour to its range at Caffè Culture. Chocolate Spice Chai is made from a blend of cocoa and the traditional Chai blend of spices, black tea, and skimmed milk. It joins the existing range, which includes Spiced, Vanilla and Peppermint flavours.”More and more operators are having to offer interesting options outside their core coffee and tea range, as customers are becoming more discerning and adventurous,” said founder and owner Amanda Hamilton.”We believe the Chocolate Spice Chai is not only a great product in terms of taste and quality, but also offers coffee houses the chance to establish themselves as a beverage innovator in an increasingly competitive market.”This product is currently only marketed at foodservice, in catering tubs. The cost price for cafés is 29p per 12oz serving portion and the end user would pay approx £2.20 for a Chocolate Chai in a café.Cost: 29p/12oz serving portion[http://www.drinkmechai.co.uk]
Warburtons has announced its new environmental policy, which identifies the family firm’s key areas of focus for 2010 and beyond.In the document entitled ‘Building Success Responsibly’, the firm sets out its five areas of focus. These can be viewed at its newly launched corporate responsibility website, which documents the company’s full CR policy and ongoing achievements.They are: the managing of stewardship of the supply chain ethically and sustainably; reducing the impact of the Warburtons business on the environment; keeping employees safe and providing opportunities for learning and development; helping customers make healthy and environmentally friendly choices; support charities, organisations and projects in the local community.It has also set out a series of objectives to help monitor its progress, which include the aim to achieve a 20% reduction in C02 emissions, compared to it 2008 total, by 2020. Its transport-related targets include: a reduction in fuel usage of 10% by 2014, from its 2008 total; to explore the potential of using electric vehicles and alternative fuels; and to achieve zero growth in food miles from its 2009 total.Additional targets include a reduction in overall water usage of 20% by 2020, from its 2007 total, and to achieve zero bread and packaging waste from its bakeries to landfill from 2015.“CR is nothing new to Warburtons, as it has always been inherent in the way we run our business. The difference now is that we are communicating more and setting ourselves quantifiable targets to report back on,” explained corporate responsibility director Sarah Miskell.“Customers are continually looking to manufacturers to make the right choices and this is what we are looking to achieve in everything we do, as well as helping our suppliers and customers do the same.”The full document can be viewed at: www.warburtons.co.uk/corporate-responsibility.