The Employment Equality Regulations 2003 (Age) makes in unlawful to treat people unfavourably without justification because of their age, or if a person is harassed or victimised because of their age.
Age discrimination law
Age discrimination law currently applies only in employment and vocational training where you have been treated less favourably without justification because of your age. This is not currently applicable to goods and services, though Human Rights Law may give some protection in these areas.
The regulations apply to all aspects of employment and training, including
- Recruitment and selection
- Terms and conditions of employment, including pay
- Dismissals, including redundancy
- Opportunities for training, training itself, job promotions and transfers
- After the working relationship has ended
There regulations would make it unlawful to discriminate in employment or training through;
- Direct discrimination
- Indirect discrimination
Those protected are
- All workers
- People taking part or applying for employment related vocational training, retention or work experience.
The regulations do not apply currently, to the provision of services, goods and facilities.
There are a limited number of circumstances when it is lawful to treat people differently because of their age but there must be 'objective justification' in each case.
For example, it can sometimes justifiable to adopt an age-specific approach to the delivery of vocational education or training – provided this is a fair means of achieving a genuine aim. An example of this would be an organisation increasing the participation rate of a specific age group on a training course to ensure that this age group is more represented in the workforce. This is lawful and an example of positive action to improve integration in to the workforce developing a more representative workforce.
An objective justification allows an employer to discriminate both directly and indirectly on the basis of age. They must however, show that the discrimination is 'proportionate' and contributes to a legitimate aim.
Proportionate means that:
- What the employer is doing is actually achieving its aim
- The discriminatory effects should be significantly out weighed by the importance and benefits of the legitimate aim.
- The employer should have no reasonable alternative to the action they are taking. If the legitimate aim can be achieved by another or less discriminatory means, they must then opt for that route.
In some circumstances, it may be lawful for an employer to treat people differently if there is a 'genuine occupational requirements' for a job holder to be of a particular age. For example, a younger actress would be required to play the role of a teenager in a film.