Den aldrende arbeidsstyrken og aldersdiskriminasjon på arbeidsmarkedet i Danmark

Hanne Marie Lillevik Iversen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose with this master thesis has been to identify situations in which age discrimination on the labor market can be justified, and to recognize concrete actions that can be made in order to maintain senior workers on the labor market. There is currently an ageing of the population and workforce in Europe and Denmark. This is a result of the combination of the baby boom in Europe after the Second World War, and the low birthrates in the 1980s. This demographic change is a challenge on the labor market, and in the future it will be fundamental that organizations have an interest in maintaining their employees longer on the labor market. The trend today shows that senior workers tend to give up work earlier than before, and this will contribute to workforce shortage. Aging is connected with both physical and mental changes, and this result in employees who have other strengths and needs compared with younger employees. At the same time as there is an ageing of the population, there are several cases of age discrimination on the labor market, both in Europe and in Denmark. The Council directive 2000/78/EC from 2000 is including a principle of equal treatment in employment and occupation, and is laying down a general framework for combating discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. This principle was included in the Danish Forskelsbehandlingslov in 2004. Workers are protected against both direct discrimination, indirect discrimination and harassment. Article 6 in the Council directive 2000/78/EC is stating that differences of treatment on grounds of age shall not constitute discrimination, if, within the context of national law, they are objectively and reasonably justified by a legitimate aim, including legitimate employment policy, labour market and vocational training objectives, and if the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary. It is also allowed that Member States maintain or adopt specific measures to prevent or compensate for e.g. age. This could e.g. be senior policies. In order to identify situations where age discrimination can be justified, I have also studied a selection of case law. Several organizations are today including actions specially adapted to suit senior workers as a part of their HR policy. In Denmark the public sector has been pioneers in this area, and more organizations in the private sector is following this trend. In this part of the thesis I have included a case. The organization in the case is doing a pilot project on a senior plan, and is an example of an organization that is characterized by a young and pulsating environment that suddenly realized that their workforce also included a senior worker representing different needs and strengths compared to the other employees. The Finnish researcher Ilmarinen has developed the Work Ability Index (WAI), that by having employees conducting a questionnaire, can determine their work ability. This method is defining work ability as “how good is the worker at present and in the near future, and how able is he/she to do his/her work with respect to work demands, health and mental resources.” The purpose is to identify factors that can result in early withdrawal from the labor market and retirement. European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions presents eight dimensions of age management. This is a good starting point for developing a senior policy, however as the case indicates, individual adjustments, both in relation to the nature of their business, but also to suit the individual employee, must be done.

EducationsMSc in Human Resource Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages72