For older workers in the UK, the passing of the 2010 Equality Act – coming in the wake of new regulations introduced four years earlier – was seen as a landmark in this path to progress. Huge changes followed the Act. Out went the idea of a mandatory retirement age. In came a wide range of protections aimed at cementing the standing of older workers within the labour market and changing attitudes towards them.
Fast-forward to 2020 and this progressive agenda, as it relates to older workers and the elderly more generally, is coming under challenge. On the grounds of age (and age alone), the government has encouraged millions of people not just to stay at home but to shun human contact altogether. Crisis or no crisis, Christopher Lake and Adam Gold see no immediate prospect of the legislation protecting older workers being watered down. But Covid-19 has brought the issues of age and work to a head in ways that the framers of the 2010 Act could not have imagined.
The charge that the Covid-19 outbreak will turn out to be China’s Chernobyl has been doing the rounds in recent weeks. Whether the charge ends up sticking will come down to a number of factors: how reliably the international scientific community is able to trace the origins of the virus, how open the Chinese authorities are to admitting their mistakes, and what the final tally of damage to lives and livelihoods across the world turns out to be. In this article, Christopher Lake and Adam Gold offer their own take on whether the parallels with Chernobyl hold good.Share
In the debates swirling around Covid-19, some see a trade-off between human life and the economy. We want to call time on this distinction. We think it is getting in the way of clear thinking about the pandemic and the choices it presents. But before we can drop the distinction, we need to understand what it is seeking to capture and the unease it is seeking to express. That is the purpose of this article.Share