Employment law in the UK depicts age discrimination as an instance when an
individual is subjected to an unfair disadvantage for reasons relating to his or
her age, without any objective justification. Age discrimination has been
illegal in the UK since 2006.
Moreover, people of all ages can be affected by this form of discrimination,
including older workers and young professionals. Let us take a closer look at
age discrimination and its various types that exist across workplaces in the UK.
What Is Age Discrimination?
Whenever an employer puts an employee to an
obvious unfair disadvantage on the basis of their age, without objectively
justifying the act, it is termed as age discrimination. Furthermore, such
a-unfavourably affect an individual and his or her employment opportunities,
regardless of their age;
a-result in a failure to consider skills-based potential, abilities, and
experience in the workplace;
a-end up in significant legal costs, settlements and compensation paid to avoid
defending the age discrimination claim
A recent government survey reported that discrimination and obsolete work
practices continue to exist across organisations in the UK, despite having been
made explicitly illegal since 2006. If we talk about age discrimination,
evidence suggests that older workers are discriminated against on a regular
basis in the jobs market and are disproportionately prone to be selected for
Employers must avoid basing employment decisions on the variable of age because
it is an inadequate predictor of performance. Furthermore, age of an employee
can mislead any evaluation that tries to equate their age with their physical
and mental ability. Instead of age, therefore, employers must focus on an
employeea's competencies, qualifications, potential and skills, whilst making
decisions about the job requirements and whether the individual fits into the
Furthermore, employment decisions based on age are legally allowed only when
such decisions can be objectively justified as a means to achieve a legitimate
What Does The Law Say?
In the UK, legal directives to address age
discrimination were first introduced in 2006. Subsequently, the law has been
included under the Equality Act 2010. Key points of the legislature against age
a-The provisions contained under the law protect people of all ages in their
employment regarding recruitment, redundancy, promotion, vocational training,
reward and recognition;
a-The legal directives apply to all employers, trade unions, providers of
vocational training, professional associations, managers and trustees of
occupational pension schemes, and employer organisations;
a-The legal provisions do not affect state pensions
Additionally, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published comprehensive
guidance material covering all aspects of the Equality Act, including an
Employment Code of Practice. While these documents arena't legally binding, the
codes provide insights on good practices to be introduced into workplaces.
Types of Discrimination
The Equality Act 2010 describes different kinds of
discrimination, which apply to some protected characteristics, including age.
This form of bias refers to all protected
characteristics. Under this category, all types of behaviour that treat an
individual less favourably than another, because of their age is covered. For
example, denying promotion to an older candidate regardless of his or her
experience, or making an employee redundant on the grounds of his or her age.
Indirect discrimination is said to occur when an
employer introduces a provision, practice or criterion into the workplace and
the criterion puts a group of employees with a protected characteristic at a
clear disadvantage against their peers. Further, indirect discrimination is also
said to occur when:
a-an individual is put explicitly at a disadvantage;
a-the employer fails to show that the policy was introduced as a proportionate
means of achieving a legitimate aim
For example, if an employer implements a criterion for a promotion that an
employee must have a minimum working tenure of 10 years to be eligible for
promotion. This would mean that any employee under the age of 26 years would be
sidelined from being promoted.
This type of discrimination involves
unfavourable treatment of someone because of their association with an
individual with a protected characteristic. For example, employers treating
someone less favourably because they are part of a group of young employees,
despite being older themselves.
This form of age discrimination happens when an
individual is treated less favourably because it is perceived that he or she has
a protected characteristic, regardless of whether they do or not. For example,
if an employer refuses to appoint someone because they wrongly thought that they
belong to a particular age range and would not be suitable for the role.
Victimisation involves instances where a person is treated less favourably
because they have raised an age discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010
or supported a complaint. Victimisation is also applicable if it is thought that
that the individual made a complaint. Moreover, a claim of victimisation
doesna't require a comparator.
One of the most commonly known forms of age discrimination,
harassment is depicted under the Equality Act 2010 as an a€˜unwanted conduct
related to a specific protected characteristic, which in turn, has the effect or
purpose of violating a persona's dignity or creating an intimidating, degrading,
hostile, offensive or humiliating environment for that individual'.
While there is no longer any specific legislation to hold employers liable for
harassment coming from a customer (a third party), however, an employer can
still be held responsible for several other legal duties, including direct
discrimination, breach of contract, and under the Protection from Harassment Act