The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees, job seekers and trainees because of their age.
There are four types of age discrimination:
- direct discrimination: treating someone less favourably because of their actual or perceived age, or because of the age of someone with whom they associate. This treatment can only be justified if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim which means it must be appropriate and necessary, (economic factors such as business needs and efficiency may be legitimate aims).
- indirect discrimination: can occur where there is a policy, practice or procedure which applies to all workers, but particularly disadvantages people of a particular age. For example, a requirement for job applicants to have worked in a particular industry for ten years may disadvantage younger people. Indirect discrimination can only be justified if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
- harassment: when unwanted conduct related to age has the purpose or effect of violating an individual's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.
- victimisation: unfair treatment of an employee who has made or supported a complaint about age discrimination.
Note: Objective justification means that differences of treatment on the grounds of age can sometimes be justified; objective justification is a test that employers will have to use to substantiate any exemptions to the laws.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees, job seekers and trainees because of their age. The Equality Act states there is no upper age limits on unfair dismissal and redundancy. The regulations apply to all workers, including office holders, police, barristers and partners in a business. They also cover related areas such as membership of trade organisations, the award of qualifications, the services of careers guidance organisations, employment agencies and vocational training providers, including further and higher education institutions.
Employers should ensure they have policies in place which are designed to prevent discrimination in:
- recruitment and selection
- determining pay
- training and development
- selection for promotion
- discipline and grievances
- countering bullying and harassment.
Making a claim regarding age discrimination
If someone feels they have been discriminated against, they may be able to bring a claim to an Employment Tribunal. However, it's best to talk to the employer first to try to sort out the matter informally, in order to minimise the negative effects on all parties involved.
Call the Acas Helpline on 08457 47 47 47 for free advice on specific problems, and alternatives to an Employment Tribunal claim, such as Mediation or Pre-claim conciliation - a free Acas service, where appropriate.