Age discrimination includes direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, and victimisation.
This is relevant to
recruitment and selection
training and development
selection for promotion
discipline and grievances
countering bullying and harassment
The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate against, or treat unfavourably employees, job candidates or trainees on the basis of their age. This applies to someone of a particular age or to someone in a particular age group or band.
The Act replaces previous legislation such as The Race Relations Act and Disability Discrimination Act, and is intended to ensure that the workplace is a fair and legally compliant environment.
The Equality Act also removed the upper age limits on unfair dismissal and redundancy.
The regulations apply to all workers, including police, barristers and partners in a business. They also cover related areas such as membership of trade organisations, employment agencies and providers of vocational training, including further and higher education institutions.
An example of direct discrimination would be when an employer does not appoint a job candidate due to an assumption that the candidates old age makes him or her unreliable.
Because it would be direct discrimination it is therefore unlawful to :
Decide not to employ someone
Refuse to provide them with training
Deny them promotion
Give them adverse terms and conditions
on the grounds of age.
Indirect discrimination can occur if an employer for example provides a benefit for workers which seems to apply to everyone equally, but which puts an individual or people from a particular age group at a disadvantage. If this were to happen, the employer would have to justify it in business terms and would have to show that it was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
An employer risks a legal claim if he or she sacks an older employee because of assumptions about age and poor performance. An Employment Tribunal is likely to judge the age factor, on its own, as an irrelevance. Instead, an employer would have to provide evidence, without reference to age, that the worker was not fulfilling or could not fulfil his or her contractual obligations.
It would also be unlawful for an employer to state in an advert that a job is open to candidates only of a certain age. Again, for this to be lawful, it would require a justifiable business reason.
From 6 April 2011, there is no longer a default retirement age. An employer will not be able to retire an employee on the grounds of age unless this can be objectively justified, such as on health or safety grounds.
To avoid potential claims, an employer should also have policies designed to prevent discrimination from taking place.
If an employee feels they are being discriminated against they should keep a record of any examples and use it to put a case forward.
Initially, it may be most effective to raise the issues with the employer to resolve the situation. It is permissible to bring an employee representative or colleague to the meeting as a witness.
If this fails, it may be worth considering making a claim at an employment tribunal for age discrimination.
Whether a claim can be made depends on whether certain conditions are met, for example, concerning time limits.
As much information as possible about legal rights should be sought before proceeding. Research can be done online or an adviser or representative can help provide information and guidance.
Sharma Solicitors is a specialist Employment Law firm which deals with age discrimination and all aspects of employment law. For further information and a free confidential initial consultation please call on 0845 430 0145 Visit : http://www.sharmaemploymentlawsolicitors.co.uk/