Is Age Discrimination on the rise?

With the rise of the retirement age in the UK, we are more likely to see an increase in age discrimination cases. Based on a survey undertaken in January 2018 by the Office of National Statistics, the figures showed for the first time there are more than 10 million people aged over 50 in employment in the UK market. This means employees over the age of 50 now make up nearly one third (31%) of the entire UK workforce, up from around one in five (21%) in the early 1990s.

Age discrimination occurs when an employee is treated less favourably because of their age. This could be demonstrated expressly by another member of staff or even implied by the way the person is treated.

In a recent age discrimination case against the NHS, an 88 year old employee won her case for unfair dismissal and discrimination based on her age and disability. This is not the first time the NHS has fallen short of following the correct procedure in tackling age discrimination in the workplace. In this case, Ms Jolly, a NHS employee with no record of sickness absence over a 10 year period, was escorted out of her office after she had failed to upload details of cancer patients on the waiting list for non-urgent breast reconstruction surgery into a new database. She explained the lack of training in using the new system was the reason for her failure and that she had felt “humiliated” by the way the NHS staff had treated her. She is believed to be the oldest person to win an age discrimination case.

Acas has recently published new guidelines for employers, providing clear advice on how to comply with the Equality Act, which is the main legislation in protecting employees against any form of discrimination based on a number of protected characteristics, with ‘age’ being one of these characteristics. The new guidelines include advice on training and recruitment of staff, as well as performance management and redundancy which are often the areas where age discrimination is more likely to occur.

Following the correct procedure in engaging with the older workforce in relation to their performance management is essential in eliminating the potential for age discrimination cases. Employers need to not only follow the correct recruitment procedure, but to provide their staff with the appropriate training in order to preclude any discrimination cases.

At Rollits we have an excellent team of employment lawyers with experience in all aspects of discrimination cases in workplace. For any advice please contact the head of our employment team, Ed Jenneson.

Posted on: 11/02/2019

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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