Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Since 2011 when compulsory retirement at the age of 65 has been abolished, the number of employees aged over 65 years has increased for more than 1 million. And their numbers are expected to continue to grow over the following years which indicates that many over 65s can and want to continue to work. And the data of government-sponsored research is on their side.

The Widespread and Seriousness of Ageism at Work is Underestimated

According to studies on the influence of age on productivity, older workers are equally productive as their younger colleagues up until the age of 70. Despite that, companies are not too keen about going an extra mile to attract or retain older workers. According to a recent survey, more than 60 percent of managers think that over 50s are unlikely to progress at work.

Unfortunately, age discrimination or ageism isn’t limited to the workplace alone. Even though it is just as unacceptable as other forms of discrimination based on protected characteristics, e.g. sex, race/ethnicity, religion, etc. many people think it’s OK to make assumptions about other people based on their age. And they don’t even realise that they are being discriminatory. As a result of this widespread ageism, many older workers are being forced out of the workforce through inflexible contracts and schedules, while those out of the work are having serious difficulties re-entering the workforce.

Protection Against Age Discrimination in the Workplace Under the Equality Act 2010

Age is one of the so-called protected characteristics which means that it’s unlawful to discriminate against a person just because of their age. Under the Equality Act 2010, people with protected characteristics mustn’t be discriminated against in recruitment, training, promotion, pay, dismissal, etc. The are some exceptions, for example health and safety reasons or when the employer can demonstrate an objective justification.

Preventing Age Discrimination in the Workplace

In addition to complying with the provisions of the Equality Act when it comes to recruitment, training, promotion, pay, etc. employers are also obliged to ensure that older workers are not being discriminated at work by other workers, for example by making insulting remarks, improper jokes or other form of verbal or physical harassment because of their age. For that reason it is crucial to ensure that employees are well informed about their rights, especially those with protected characteristics. Also, workers who feel that they are being discriminated in any way should be encouraged to come forward and report discrimination.