Age discrimination is one of the most common forms of unfair treatment at work. The age gap between staff can now be 50 years or more.
For employers and managers there is more of a risk of age discrimination happening in particular activities in the workplace including:
Recruitment - age discrimination could happen at any time during the hiring process - from the very beginning of 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 - employers and managers must not allow any bias, stereotypical thinking or assumptions about age to creep into decisions about who gets trained or promoted.
Performance management - a manager must approach an employee's appraisal and conduct it without preconceptions or bias concerning age. They should treat relevant employees consistently when assessing their performance and setting future goals, no matter what the employee's age. During the appraisal, the manager and the employer must not raise or prompt a discussion about any possibility of the employee retiring.
Managing under-performance - a manager should not ignore performance matters because the employee is younger or older than other staff.
Retirement - in most jobs, there is no longer a set retirement age, meaning almost all employees can decide when they will stop working.
There can still be uncertainty among some employers about the law and retirement. For example, an employer must not assume an employee is retiring, suggest they retire or try to force them to retire. However, they can ask the employee, no matter what their age, about their work plans in the short-, medium- and long-terms, explaining the reason for asking is to help plan the workforce in shaping the business's future needs.
To understand how age discrimination can happen in the workplace, how to prevent it, and how different treatment because of age can be allowed in certain situations, ACAS have published the following new guidance: