Tackling age discrimination in the workplace

open plan officeThe Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has launched new guidance on age discrimination and employer obligations.

Treating someone unfairly because of their age is against the law (apart from in very limited circumstances). Age is one of nine features known as protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010, but in many cases, employers unintentionally discriminate because they are unfamiliar with the law.

Whether intended or not, age discrimination can often lead to poor decision-making when recruiting, demotivate existing staff, lead to reduced job performance, and lessen trust between colleagues. Also, assumptions and uninformed decisions about job applicants or employees could lead to discrimination claims. 

The guides cover a broad spectrum of issues, such as discrimination in recruitment, bias in training and promotion, and assumptions about retirement, such as that 'an employee must retire once they are eligible to take their state pension'. In fact, the law no longer sets a retirement age, and most employees can decide when they will stop working and whether to take or defer their state pension (and must not be treated detrimentally because they are thinking about retiring).

The Acas guides can be downloaded for free from www.acas.org.uk.