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An experimentalist approach to equality: a case study of retirement in the UK university sector

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 June 2019

Alysia Blackham*
Affiliation:
Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Abstract

Experimentalism is a theory of regulation in which change is achieved via a process of ‘directly deliberative polyarchy’ within an experimentalist architecture. This paper argues that experimentalism offers a normatively desirable model for legal interventions relating to the ageing workforce, and age equality law in particular, and offers new insights into existing UK scholarship on reflexive law. Drawing on qualitative and quantitative data from UK universities, this article considers the extent to which reforms to retirement ages have promoted a form of experimentalism among UK universities. This paper offers concrete suggestions and reforms for how an experimentalist framework could be adopted in this context to enhance regulatory reform.

Type
Research Article
Information
Legal Studies , Volume 39 , Issue 4 , December 2019 , pp. 598 - 617
Copyright
Copyright © The Society of Legal Scholars 2019 

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Footnotes

This research was funded by a Research Activities Fund Grant from the Society of Legal Scholars, and a Research Grant from the Socio-Legal Studies Association Grants Scheme. The author gratefully acknowledges the comments of Professor Kirsty Gover on an earlier version of this paper.

References

1 See eg Fredman, S Discrimination Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2nd edn, 2011) p 103Google Scholar.

2 See eg Blackham, A Extending Working Life for Older Workers: Age Discrimination Law, Policy and Practice (Oxford: Hart, 2016)Google Scholar; Dewhurst, EIntergenerational balance, mandatory retirement and age discrimination in Europe: how can the ECJ better support national courts in finding a balance between the generations?’ (2013) 50 Common Market Law Review 1333Google Scholar; Dewhurst, EAre older workers past their sell-by-date? A view from UK age discrimination law’ (2015) 78 Modern Law Review 189CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Dewhurst, EProportionality assessments of mandatory retirement measures: uncovering guidance for national courts in age discrimination cases’ (2016) 45 Industrial Law Journal 60CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Sargeant, MThe default retirement age: legitimate aims and disproportionate means’ (2010) 39 Industrial Law Journal 244CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Vickers, L and Manfredi, SAge equality and retirement: squaring the circle’ (2013) 42 Industrial Law Journal 61CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3 Sturm, SSecond generation employment discrimination: a structural approach’ (2001) 101 Columbia Law Review 458CrossRefGoogle Scholar at 475.

4 ‘Reflexive law’ is a theory of law that focuses on the regulation of self-regulation, based on a view of law as an autopoietic system of communication: see Hepple, BEnforcing equality law: two steps forward and two steps backwards for reflexive regulation’ (2011) 40 Industrial Law Journal 315CrossRefGoogle Scholar; McLaughlin, CEqual pay, litigation and reflexive regulation: the case of the UK local authority sector’ (2014) 43 Industrial Law Journal 1CrossRefGoogle Scholar; McCrudden, CEquality legislation and reflexive regulation: a response to the Discrimination Law Review's consultative paper’ (2007) 36 Industrial Law Journal 255CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5 Sabel, CF and Zeitlin, JLearning from difference: the new architecture of experimentalist governance in the EU’ in Sabel, CF and Zeitlin, J (eds) Experimentalist Governance in the European Union: Towards a New Architecture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012) pp 2526Google Scholar.

6 Ibid, p 3.

Ibid

7 Sabel, CF and Simon, WHMinimalism and experimentalism in the administrative state’ (2011–2012) 100 Georgetown Law Journal 53Google Scholar at 81.

8 Ibid, at 55.

Ibid

9 Sabel and Zeitlin, above n 5, p 6.

10 Cohen, J and Sabel, CDirectly-deliberative polyarchy’ (1997) 3 European Law Journal 313CrossRefGoogle Scholar at 327.

11 Teubner, GCompany interest: the public interest of the enterprise “in itself”’ in Rogowski, R and Wilthagen, T (eds) Reflexive Labour Law: Studies in Industrial Relations and Employment Regulation (Deventer: Kluwer Law and Taxation Publishers, 1994) p 24Google Scholar.

12 Hepple, above n 4, at 321.

13 Manfredi, S and Vickers, LRetirement and age discrimination: managing retirement in higher education’ (2009) 38 Industrial Law Journal 343CrossRefGoogle Scholar at 357.

14 See Blackham, AManaging without default retirement in universities: a comparative picture from Australia’ (2015) 35 Legal Studies 502CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

15 CF Sabel Rolling Rule Labor Standards: Why Their Time Has Come, and Why We Should Be Glad of It Proceedings of the International Colloquium on the 80th Anniversary of the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (Geneva: International Labour Organization, 2007) p 264.

16 Sturm, above n 3, at 461.

17 Sabel and Zeitlin, above n 5, p 3; see also Sabel and Simon, above n 7, at 79.

18 Sabel and Simon, above n 7, at 55.

19 Sabel and Zeitlin, above n 5, p 3; Sabel and Simon, above n 7, at 78.

20 Sabel and Simon, above n 7, at 79.

21 Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Cth), ss 3, 13. See further Workplace Gender Equality (Matters in Relation to Gender Equality Indicators) Instrument 2013 (No 1) (Cth). ‘Gender equality matters’ include equal pay, gender composition of the workforce, flexible work arrangements, and consultation in relation to gender equality.

22 Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Cth), ss 16, 16A.

23 Ibid, s 16B.

Ibid

24 Ibid, s 2A(d).

Ibid

25 Ibid, s 10.

Ibid

26 Ibid, s 19D.

Ibid

27 See further Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Workplace Gender Equality Procurement Principles and User Guide.

28 Workplace Gender Equality (Minimum Standards) Instrument 2014 (Cth).

29 See F Munir and others Advancing Women's Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine: Evaluating the Effectiveness and Impact of the Athena SWAN Charter (2013).

30 Ibid.

Ibid

31 Equality Challenge Unit Evaluating the Athena SWAN Charter: ECU Response (2014) p 3.

32 Equality Challenge Unit About ECU's Athena SWAN Charter (2014), available at http://www.ecu.ac.uk/equality-charter-marks/athena-swan/about-athena-swan/.

33 Rittel, HWJ and Webber, MMDilemmas in a general theory of planning’ (1973) 4 Policy Sciences 155CrossRefGoogle Scholar at 161–167. In this context, ‘wicked’ is used to describe the nature of the problem itself, and how it might be resolved, rather than the substantive issue at hand.

34 Australian Public Service Commission Tackling Wicked Problems: A Public Policy Perspective (2007) pp 3–4.

35 Rittel and Webber, above n 33, at 159.

36 Sabel and Simon, above n 7, at 56.

37 S Deakin Learning or Diversity? Reflections on the Future of International Labour Standards Proceedings of the International Colloquium on the 80th Anniversary of the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (Geneva: International Labour Organization, 2007) p 243.

38 Sabel and Simon, above n 7, at 88.

39 Sabel and Zeitlin, above n 5, p 3; see also Sabel and Simon, above n 7, at 79.

40 Sabel and Simon, above n 7, at 79.

41 Bagenstos, SThe structural turn and the limits of antidiscrimination law’ (2006) 94(1) California Law ReviewCrossRefGoogle Scholar at 46.

42 Sturm, above n 3, at 479–482.

43 Ibid, at 483.

Ibid

44 Bagenstos, above n 41, at 20–21, 25–26.

45 Sabel, above n 15, p 271.

46 Ibid.

Ibid

47 Sturm, above n 3, at 522–524.

48 Ibid, at 524–37.

Ibid

49 Ibid, at 565.

Ibid

50 Bagenstos, above n 41, at 21, 26–34.

51 Equality Act 2006, s 8.

52 Ibid, s 11.

Ibid

53 Ibid, s 13.

Ibid

54 Hepple, above n 4, at 319.

55 See similarly Sturm, above n 3, at 550–553.

56 Deakin, above n 37, p 244.

57 Ibid. A ‘floor of rights’ approach might help to prevent this race to the bottom, by framing the range of permissible organisational responses: ibid, p 245.

Ibid

58 Sabel, above n 15, p 265. Limited explanation is offered, however, for how this law is experimentalist.

59 Ibid.

Ibid

60 See further Sabel, above n 15.

61 Employment Rights Act 1996, s 109.

62 [2009] IRLR 1017.

63 Ibid, para 95.

Ibid

64 Ibid, para 129.

Ibid

65 Ibid, para 130.

Ibid

66 Ibid, para 130.

Ibid

67 HM Government Opportunity Age: Meeting the Challenges of Ageing in the 21st Century (2005) p 20.

68 HM Government The Equality Strategy – Building a Fairer Britain (2010); BIS Flexible, Effective, Fair: Promoting Economic Growth through a Strong and Efficient Labour Market (URN 11/1308, 2011); BIS Phasing out the Default Retirement Age: Government Response to Consultation (URN 11/536, 2011); DWP Fuller Working Lives: A Framework for Action (2014).

69 See Blackham, AAddressing the ageing workforce: a critical examination of legal policy objectives and values’ (2017) 37 Ageing & Society 1362CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

70 See further Manfredi, S and Vickers, LPensioning off the mandatory retirement age: implications for the higher education sector’ (2013) 33 Legal Studies 289CrossRefGoogle Scholar at 299–308.

71 [2012] 2 CMLR 50 (Seldon).

72 Ibid, paras [56]–[57].

Ibid

73 Seldon v Clarkson Wright & Jakes [2013] UKET 1100275/2007 (14 May 2013); Seldon v Clarkson Wright & Jakes [2014] UKEAT/0434/13/RN (13 May 2014).

74 Cf the PSED, which was intended to operate as a form of reflexive law: Manfredi, S and others ‘The public sector equality duty: enforcing equality rights through second-generation regulation’ (2018) 47 Industrial Law Journal 365CrossRefGoogle Scholar at 373.

75 Hepple, above n 4, at 334.

76 In this paper, a classification scheme is used to enable the broad identification of universities while still maintaining source and case study anonymity. Universities have been allocated a number, and each interviewee from that university identified with a different letter. So the second respondent from the fifth university is identified with U5b. Where identifying the university would jeopardise source anonymity (eg for universities with an EJRA, which are few in number and publicly known), no source has been cited.

77 See Patton, MQ Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods (Newbury Park: Sage, 2nd edn, 1990) p 467Google Scholar.

78 Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation [2000] OJ L 303/16.

79 Garrett, BL and Liebman, JSExperimentalist equal protection’ (2004) 22 Yale Law & Policy Review 261Google Scholar at 292.

80 Ibid, at 315.

Ibid

81 Arguably, however, in an experimentalist structure this guidance should come from the legislature or executive, or a central agency (like the EHRC), not the courts.

82 See Blackham, above n 2, p 3.

83 For example, the ETs in Seldon, above n 73, Lindsay v Department for Employment and Learning [2014] EqLR 180 and White v Ministry of Justice ET 2201298/2013 (20 November 2014), conducted a far less rigorous inspection of the retirement ages in question than that in Hampton v Lord Chancellor [2008] IRLR 258, Engel v Transport and Environment Committee of London Councils [2013] UKET 2200472/2012 (26 April 2013), Martin v Professional Match Game Officials Ltd [2010] UKET 2802438/2009 (13 April 2010) or Willey v England and Wales Cricket Board Ltd [2015] UKET 2201406/2014 (10 March 2015).

84 Bagenstos, above n 41, at 20–21, 25–26.

85 For example, Sturm considers the case of an affirmative defence to claims of sexual harassment, which could apply to any employer in appropriate circumstances.

86 This may be compared with other areas of law, where participation can be induced by potential civil liability: Garrett and Liebman, above n 79, at 293. Here, participation is deterred by potential civil liability.

87 BIS Phasing out the Default Retirement Age: Government Response to Consultation. Impact Assessment (BIS/11/634, 2011); BIS Phasing out the Default Retirement Age: Consultation Document (URN 10/1047, 2010); BIS Phasing out the Default Retirement Age: Government Response to Consultation, above n 68.

88 Though some institutions managed to undertake fairly substantial consultation prior to adopting an EJRA: see C Barnard and S Deakin ‘Age discrimination and labour law in the UK: managing ageing’ in A Numhauser-Henning and M Rönnmar (eds) Age Discrimination and Labour Law: Comparative and Conceptual Perspectives in the EU and Beyond (Alphen aan den Rijn: Kluwer Law International, 2015) pp 314–316.

89 DWF De-Regulation of Retirement – One Year On (2012). See also Eversheds Eversheds UK HR E-Briefing: How Are Employers Managing without the Default Retirement Age? (2013); R Thomas and others Recovery in Sight? The State of HR (2013).

90 Eversheds, above n 89, p 2.

91 Thomas and others, above n 89, p 9.

92 Note, however, that Oxford revised its EJRA policy from 1 October 2017 to apply to staff in grade 8 and above only: see Personnel Services Employer Justified Retirement Age (2017), available at http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/personnel/end/retirement/acrelretire8+/ejra/.

93 This may reflect a process of peer-review: see below. Alternatively, it may show the impact of court decisions on university problem-solving.

94 See similarly M Emery ‘Academia, Oxford University and retirement’ (2014), available at https://www.roydswithyking.com/academia-retirement-policy/.

95 See similarly ibid.

96 Or, perhaps, even more broadly if this cultivates a race to the bottom.

97 Sabel and Simon, above n 7, at 80.

98 Sturm, above n 3, at 476.

99 In contrast, union representatives felt that retirement ages were not an effective means of promoting equality, as more diverse candidates were not applying for vacant positions, and did not ‘understand the rules’ for getting short-listed for positions when they did apply. Thus, retirement ages were ineffective at achieving diversity without broader change.

100 In the Oxford University Court of Appeal: In the Appeal of Professor Denis Galligan (1st September 2014), cited in DJ Galligan ‘Goodbye to the EJRA’ [2015] Oxford Magazine 4.

101 Pitcher v University of Oxford ET 3323858/2016 (16 May 2019).

102 Thomas and others, above n 89, p 9.

103 Hampton, above n 83.

104 Martin, above n 83.

105 See Engel, above n 83, para [47].

106 Lindsay, above n 83.

107 Willey, above n 83.

108 Sabel, CF and Zeitlin, JExperimentalism in the EU: common ground and persistent differences’ (2012) 6 Regulation & Governance 410CrossRefGoogle Scholar at 413–414; Sabel and Zeitlin, above n 5, p 15.

109 Though, it does flag that legal advisers could fulfil an intermediary role in this situation.

110 Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011, SI 2011/2260, reg 2.

111 Cohen and Sabel, above n 10, p 326.

112 Sabel and Zeitlin, above n 5, p 4.

113 Sabel and Simon, above n 7, at 79.

114 See further Dickens, L and Hall, MFairness – up to a point. Assessing the impact of New Labour's employment legislation’ (2006) 16 Human Resource Management Journal 338CrossRefGoogle Scholar at 350–351.

115 BIS Trade Union Membership 2013 (Statistical Bulletin 2014) p 5.

116 See CIPD Managing Age: New Edition 2011 (2011); CIPD Retirement Practices – Making the Right Choice! An Employer's Guide (2010).

117 BIS Business Population Estimates for the UK and Regions 2015 (2015), available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/467443/bpe_2015_statistical_release.pdf.

118 Garrett and Liebman, above n 79, at 291–292.

119 Sabel and Simon, above n 7, at 80.

120 HM Government, above n 67, p 20.

121 See Blackham, above n 69.

122 Ibid.

Ibid

123 These objectives also drove the abolition of the DRA and introduction of the EJRA. See, for example, BIS Phasing out the Default Retirement Age: Government Response to Consultation. Impact Assessment, above n 87; BIS Phasing out the Default Retirement Age: Consultation Document, above n 87; BIS Phasing out the Default Retirement Age: Government Response to Consultation, above n 68.

124 Bagenstos, above n 41, at 37.

125 Ibid, at 38–39.

Ibid

126 Ibid.

Ibid

127 Ibid, at 45–46.

Ibid

128 Ibid.

Ibid

129 OECD.Stat LFS – Sex and Age Indicators (2015).

130 ONS Labour Market Statistics, June 2014 (2014).

131 Blackham, above n 14.

132 Sturm, above n 3, at 559. See similarly the specific duties under the PSED: Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011, SI 2011/2260, reg 3(1); Equality Act 2010 (Statutory Duties) (Wales) Regulations 2011, SI 1064/2011 (W155), reg 3; Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012, SSI 2012/162, reg 4.

133 Ibid.

Ibid

134 Manfredi and others, above n 74, at 393–394.

135 Equality Challenge Unit Your Equality Networks (2016), available at https://www.ecu.ac.uk/get-involved/your-equality-networks/.

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