Are you potentially discriminating against an employee because of their age?

Are you potentially discriminating against an employee because of their age?

Age discrimination can occur before you even take an employee on! For example, when advertising a job can you request a specific number of years experience in the job advert? Yes, you can, however you should be aware that requesting a specific number of years’ experience in a job advert could be seen as indirect age discrimination. If you do need to specify a certain number of years’ experience in a job advert, you should always justify the requirement with valid business reasons.

As an employer, do you have to let your employees work until whatever age they want to? The short answer is no, an employer can retire an employee as long as they can objectively justify their actions. e.g dismissing on grounds of capability if the employee is not able to perform the role as required. However, employers should beware that unless correct process is followed (with fully justifiable reasons) the employee may be able to claim for age discrimination.

There are four types of age discrimination:

  1. Direct discrimination – treating someone less favourably because of their actual or perceived age, or because of the age of someone with whom they associate.
  2. Indirect discrimination – this can occur when there is a policy or procedure which applies to all workers, but particularly disadvantages people of a particular age.
  3. Harassment – when unwanted conduct related to age has the purpose or effect of violating an individuals dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile environment for an individual.
  4. Victimisation – unfair treatment of an employee who has made or supported a complaint about age discrimination.

As an employer you need to be aware of all types of discrimination as you could be discriminating without even realising. If you need any guidance on discrimination, please contact us at