Research suggests 45% of people have experienced workplace ageism. If you have ever been turned down for a job, promotion or new opportunity at work and suspect this was due to your age, you may have been affected by workplace ageism or age discrimination. Victims of workplace ageism receive unfavourable treatment due to their age even if they have the experience and qualifications needed to perform competently in a role.
Is age discrimination legal in the UK?
Workplace ageism and age discrimination is actually illegal. The Equality Act protects you from age discrimination in various employment aspects including your contract, promotion and transfer opportunities, training, the recruitment process and dismissals. You cannot be discriminated against either directly or indirectly because of your age. An example of direct age discrimination would be your employer telling you that you are ‘too old’ for a promotion or a similar opportunity. In indirect age discrimination, they may only offer further training to their younger employees.
Age and harassment
It’s also illegal for someone to harass you because of your age. This means you can take legal action if someone continues to make jokes or negative comments about it. The only time discrimination related to your age is permitted is if an employer can strongly justify a decision they have made because of it. In most cases, employers cannot force you to retire either. Employers aren’t allowed to include age limits in job ads. They can only ask you about health if they are offering you a job, if they need to know about any health or disability requirements or are monitoring diversity.
Boosting your career potential
If you think you are perfectly suited to a role or opportunity but are worried about age discrimination, there are steps that you can take to improve your chances of being accepted. Staying up to date with the latest technology can help you. It may be beneficial to say you plan on staying in the role on a long-term basis. Updating your CV can also help, as can seeking out opportunities from companies known for recruiting older staff. Some older people have even been taking steps to look younger in order to compete with more youthful candidates. These have included dressing younger, getting Botox, attempting to sound younger and more.
Unfair treatment and the benefits of older employees
36% of people aged over 50 day they have been treated unfairly in the jobs market due to their age. That’s according to a poll carried out by YouGov and Age UK. However, there are many reasons why a company and organisation might benefit from employing an older worker. These include their maturity, likelihood of remaining with the company and vast work experience. Older team members can also help companies to meet their diversity targets. It’s also worth noting that younger employees may benefit greatly from their older colleagues’ experience and wisdom. Companies and organisations that have ruled out employing workers aged 50 or over may be missing out on a wide range of advantages.