Age Discrimination Information

Important. Please read the following paragraph before continuing.

Leah Ley-Wilson Recruitment provides this information purely as a very basic guide and will endeavour to keep this information up to date. However, we are not employment law specialists and we will not accept responsibility for the use of said information by any third party.

Please note that, in our opinion, the best information on this topic is provided on the web by the REC and we recommend that you verify your requirements either via the REC themselves or via the DTI, both of whom you can find at www.rec.uk.com and. www.dti.gov.uk/er/agency.htm.

The other port of call is the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003, which you can find at www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/si/si2003/20033319.htm.
  1. What do the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 mean?
    From 1st October 2006 the Age Regulations:
    • Prohibit discrimination, harassment and victimisation against a person on the grounds of their age in relation to employment and vocational training.
    • Remove the upper age limit of 65 on unfair dismissal and redundancy.
    • Set a national default retirement age of 65 making it unlawful to compulsorily retire someone below 65 unless it can be objectively justified.
    • Set the right of an employee to request to work beyond the age of 65 or other retirement age set by the employer and a duty on an employer to seriously consider such a request.
    • Provide limited exceptions when discrimination might be lawful (known as “objective justification” – see below)
  2. These Regulations make it unlawful on the grounds of someone’s age to:
    • Discriminate directly against them (where someone treats a person less favourably because of their age).
    • Discriminate indirectly against them (where an apparently neutral criteria applied to everyone puts persons of a certain age group at a particular disadvantage).
    • Subject a person to harassment.
    • Victimise a person because they have made or intend to make a complaint or allegation of discrimination or have given evidence in relation to a complaint.
    • Discriminate against someone in certain circumstances after a working relationship has ended.
  3. Is there any time when it is acceptable to discriminate on the grounds of age?
    There is something called “objective justification” but the legislation does not provide a definition of it at the time of writing, so perhaps this will be clarified through case law in time.
  4. What do I need to think about as a Recruiter/Employer?
    The Age Regulations do not specifically address certain practices and aspects of recruitment, selection and promotion but we should bear the following in mind:
    • Asking for a date of birth on job applications may be better avoided. It is not in itself discriminatory but an employer could use the information provided to make an age-discriminatory decision.
    • Asking for a certain length of general work experience might be seen as discriminating against young people who may be less likely to fulfil such a need. It might be better therefore to ask for a specified level of stated skills rather than so many years experience.
    • When recruiting graduates, remember that students might be of any age.
    • Take care in wording adverts. Some language can inadvertently ward off workers of a certain age. For example, the term 'experience', if used without further clarity, may be used as a means of imposing an age group on job applicants. Similarly the words 'dynamic' or 'lively' may give the impression that only young people are wanted.
    • Focus adverts on the nature of the job and the skills required to do it
    • Try to avoid stereotyping by, for example, advertising for a “flexible, enthusiastic” person to fit in with your “fast moving market place”, both of which may be seen to be aimed at younger workers. Likewise the words “used to carrying a lot of responsibility” may be seen as being aimed at older people.
  5. Is there anything I need to be careful about when interviewing job applicants?
    It is always advisable to ensure that interviewing is carried out by more than one person. Where this is not practicable you should ensure that careful notes are taken of the interview and that the interview process has been pre-structured in order to avoid asking age related questions.
  6. What do I do if I get a discriminatory instruction from a client?
    If a client asks you to discriminate on the grounds of age when finding them staff, you should refuse to act on such an instruction unless the client can provide you with an ‘objective justification’ for discriminating. You should obtain written confirmation from the client of the ‘objective justification’.
  7. Further information:
    The best information for Recruitment Companies, in our opinion, is with the REC and is available to Corporate Members at www.rec.com

    Also try:

    DTI at www.dti.gov.uk/er/index.htm

    ACAS at www.acas.org.uk