Age Discrimination in an Aging Population

The Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) latest life expectancy figures stand at 79.6 for men and 83.2 for women, with projections rising as high as 93.9 and 96.5 by 2039.

When looking at retirement, the current state pension age is 65 for men and 60-65 for women and is scheduled to rise to 66 for both by 2020 with recently announced plans to increase the State Pension age to 68 between 2037 and 2039.

With an aging population staying in the workforce longer, it is surprising to see employers discriminating against older workers.

Recently, a 67 year old man was not given a job as a park keeper because of his age and the tribunal agreed with the employee. The applicant was one of 13 for the park attendant post and was shortlisted. The candidate felt that the interview was going well until a member of the panel made age-related comments saying “I’ve just noticed your age” and asking questions about the candidates health.

According to the scoring, the candidate had been one of the two strongest for the position. The judge found that his age was “certainly a factor” in being turned down for the job and “did affect the overall decision”.

The candidate and the council had agreed compensation in light of the judges decision.

On the other side of the coin, a pensioner who grew bored of sitting at home alone, has been working as a waiter at a restaurant in Paignton, only retiring this week aged 91. The owner of the restaurant admitted that the employee had been “a breath of fresh air”.1

What can employers do to protect themselves?

Employers should review how many workers are over 50 by completing an age audit. It’s also important to ensure that policies are not ageist–particularly asking people to leave at a certain age. Other things to be aware of are training and development, as older workers are typically overlooked in this area.

Should you have any questions feel free to reach out to our help line. DLP advisers are available to answer any questions you may have—24 hours a day—at 0330 400 4454.

1 – BBC

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