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Being treated unfairly at work because of your age is against the law (apart from in very limited circumstances).
The Equality Act 2010 replaced the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006. Age is one of nine special areas known as protected characteristics. The other areas are sex, race, religion/belief, pregnancy and maternity, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnership and disability.
Bearing in mind that the age gap between staff can be over 50 years, Age discrimination is now one of the most common forms of unfair treatment at work.
Features of the protected characteristic of age under the Equality Act include:
- protection against unfair treatment because of someone’s actual age, or the age they are thought to be, or the age of someone they are associated with
- protection against harassment because of age
- different treatment because of age being allowed in very limited circumstances.
There are certain high-risk areas for employers and managers in the workplace.
Recruitment – age discrimination can happen from working out what is required of an applicant, through to drafting the job application form, advertising the job, interviewing for it, using social media, and offering the job.
Training and promotion – there must not be any bias, stereotypical thinking or assumptions about age when deciding who gets trained or promoted.
Performance management – conduct appraisals without preconceptions or bias concerning age. Employees should be treated consistently when assessing their performance and setting future goals, no matter what the employee’s age.
Managing underperformance – a manager should not ignore performance matters because the employee is younger or older than other staff.
Retirement – employees can decide when they will stop working nowadays since there is no longer a set retirement age – taking their work pension will be determined by theirpension scheme and Equality Act rules.
Stereotyping is one of the most likely causes of age discrimination, causing poor decision-making for recruitment, promotion, and training.