Clamping down on age discrimination in the workplace

A recent report by a Government committee says more action is needed to tackle age discrimination.

Age Discrimination in the workplace

Age discrimination in the workplace is a serious problem

A recent report from the Women and Equalities Committee stated that the policing of age discrimination and bias is not preventing outdated employment practices, and stronger enforcement is needed in order to uphold age discrimination laws.

It wants to see the EHRC agreeing specific enforcement actions across both the public and private sectors, and adds that recruitment agencies should accept more responsibility for data collection to discover where older workers are being excluded.

Maria Miller, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, said: “Age discrimination in the workplace is a serious problem, as many older people have discovered.

Yet despite it being unlawful for more than a decade, the scale and lack of enforcement uncovered by our inquiry is both alarming and totally unacceptable.

“As a country we face serious challenges recruiting and retaining an experienced and skilled workforce. Until we tackle discrimination against the growing number of over 50s, they will continue to be consigned to the ‘too old’ pile instead of being part of the solution.”

“The business case for an age-diverse workforce is clear. Despite this, employers continue to organise workplaces around an outdated, inflexible model that this inquiry and our past inquiries into fathers in the workplace and the gender pay gap show no longer works. It’s time for a mandatory approach, with flexible working being the default from the time jobs are advertised onwards.”

The report also found:

  1. A national assessment of the skills the country will need in the future is needed by the Government, and any characterisation of those skills as the preserve of younger people needs to be challenged.
  2. Flexible working should be the default from the time jobs are advertised onwards as many older workers take on a range of caring responsibilities.
  3. The Government should work with the Business Champion for Older Workers to develop an employer-led mentoring service for businesses who want to adapt to hire older workers.
  4. The public sector should take the lead in adapting to the realities of an ageing workforce. Government departments should ensure flexible working by default and  make mid-life career reviews standard.
  5. The EHRC should undertake urgent investigations into ways of working which are resulting in a lack of retention of older workers and ensure that this is not the result of discriminatory practices.


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