Age discrimination is defined as being treated differently, often negatively, because of your age. It can be anything from being spoken to differently to losing your job because your employer deems you ‘too old’. According to Age UK, the number of people aged 65 and over is projected to rise by over 40 per cent (40.77%) in the next 17 years to over 16 million. By 2040, it’s predicted that nearly one in four people in the UK (24.2%) will be aged 65 or over; however, older people still face age discrimination. In England, 36.8% of people aged 65 and over have experienced perceived age discrimination, and for those aged between 70 and 79 this figure rises to 37.2%.
What the Equality Act says about age discriminationThe Equality Act 2010 says that you must not be discriminated against because:
- you are (or are not) a certain age or in a certain age group
- someone thinks you are (or are not) a specific age or age group, this is known as discrimination by perception
- you are connected to someone of a particular age or age group, this is known as discrimination by association
When age discrimination is lawful
- When belonging to a particular age group is essential for a job: this is called an occupational requirement.
- When an organisation is taking affirmative action to encourage or develop people in an age group that is under-represented or disadvantaged in a role or activity.
- When your employer has set a compulsory retirement age that it can clearly justify in respect of your role: this is known as objective justification.
- When a service provider is making age-related concessions and benefits. For example, a cinema can offer over 60s cheap tickets or a GP can offer flu jabs to over 65s.
- When the financial services sector (e.g. banks and insurance companies) is using age limits when deciding what services to offer.