More than four out of five people (85%) think that age discrimination should be illegal, according to a survey from Age Concern.
The legislation – coming into effect in two weeks – will offer protection to under 65s in work and training, as well as those looking for work.
However, the government has failed to give protection for those aged over 65, and the law will still allow employers to set a mandatory retirement age at 65 or above.
The survey of more than 2,100 people shows that massive numbers do not support age discrimination and adds pressure on the government to scrap mandatory retirement ages.
Last week the TUC overwhelmingly supported the abolition of all default retirement ages following a motion from the University and College Union.
Worryingly although these new age regulations come into force in 14 days, more than three in four (77%) of the population does not know that employers can force people over 65 to retire even if the employee does not want to.
Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, said: “This is an ageist anti-ageism law. It is like disability discrimination legislation that penalises someone for being too disabled.
“Society and legislators have rightly outlawed sexism, racism and homophobia. Now is the time to outlaw all forms of ageism in the workplace. It is wrong, it doesn’t make sense for either the employer or employees and it is bad for the UK’s society and economy. Mandatory retirement ages need to be abolished, and they need to be abolished now.”
Heyday, a membership organisation backed by Age Concern, is challenging the government’s introduction of mandatory retirement ages. A decision on whether this challenge will go ahead is expected shortly.