XpertHR’s recent webinar on age discrimination covered some of the thorny issues that employers can be reluctant to tackle. Jeya Thiruchelvam debunks some of the most common myths around age discrimination.
Age discrimination – traps for the unwary
Drawing on his experience as a senior barrister, Jason Galbraith-Marten QC explains the ins and outs of age discrimination.
In response to a webinar poll that asked listeners if employees at their organisation were working beyond 65 since the abolition of the default retirement age, 71% of listeners confirmed that they were, 7.6% said they were not and 21.1% said it was too early to say.
Myth 1: Under no circumstances must employers request a specific number of years’ experience in a job advert – this would be discriminatory.
Fact: Since the introduction of age discrimination legislation in 2006, requesting a specific number of years’ experience in a job advert is capable of constituting indirect age discrimination. However, it is open to an employer to justify the requirement.
Myth 2: As with all of the other protected characteristics, sex, race, disability, etc, if an employer commits an act of direct age discrimination, it has no defence.
Fact: Direct age discrimination is unique in that it can be justified by an employer.
Myth 3: Since the abolition of the default retirement age in April 2011, employers have been prohibited from operating a compulsory retirement age. Employees must be allowed to work as long as they like.
Fact: An employer can retire employees at a certain age as long as it can justify its actions with reference, among other things, to the aim behind the retirement age adopted.
Myth 4: Pre-retirement courses should be offered only to employees over a certain age.
Fact: Limiting access to pre-retirement courses to employees that fall within a certain age group may be discriminatory.