Staff over the age of 50 now make up a third of the workforce.  The idea that older workers are more likely to take time off ill has been shown to be just a myth, as has the perception that older workers are difficult to train and are less able to learn new skills.  The workplace is full of prejudice and stereotypes, and ageism is one of the most common forms of unfair treatment at work.

It is against the law to discriminate on the grounds of age and employers must make sure they are aware of their obligations in order to avoid an adverse impact on staff morale, productivity and potential discrimination claims.

The Law

Age discrimination is prohibited by the Equality Act 2010 against anyone because of their actual or perceived age, whether directly or indirectly.  It is possible to discriminate against 20 year olds just as easily as 60 year olds. The law prohibits age related direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, victimisation, post-employment discrimination and compulsory retirement.

For a brief explanation of age discrimination and an employer’s liability for the acts of its staff and customers see Freeths article – Age Discrimination – A Brief Guide for the Hospitality Sector

ACAS Guidance

Earlier this year ACAS published new guidance entitled Age Discrimination: Key points for the workplace.

The guide describes the various types of age discrimination giving examples of each.  It then looks at the areas of employment where age discrimination is likely to occur – recruitment, training, promotion, pay, performance management, redundancy and retirement giving examples and practical advice on avoiding discrimination.

The guide is a useful reference point for practical advice, for both legal obligations and good practice, on many aspects of employment, including:

·        how to word a job advert

·        advertise a position

·        draft an application form

·        use social media

·        conduct an interview

·        broach the subject of retirement.

You can access the guide HERE

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.