One in five employers admits to having discriminated against potential employees because of their age.
Recruitment company MGM International surveyed 50 senior managers and HR directors from a range of sectors and found that 22 per cent admitted to having discriminated against a candidate because of age. In the retail sector the figure is 41 per cent.
The survey also reveals widespread ignorance about the European age discrimination legislation, which is due in the UK in 2006.
Just under half of those questioned (47 per cent) were unaware of the new laws. However HR managers were more on the ball, with more than three-quarters (78 per cent) having at least some knowledge about the legal situation.
MGM decided to look into business attitudes to employee age as it regularly receives headhunting briefs stating that candidates must be below the age of 45.
MGM chairman Mike Sheard said: “Although most of the responses are what you would expect and most managers seem to make decisions based on the candidate’s experience and skills, there are still some surprising opinions out there.
"One respondent questioned the ability of someone over 50 to work in a stressful role, another said over-50s were too old for management roles.
“Considering we are getting older as a nation and will have to work harder and longer to realise a decent pension, we have to start challenging these perceptions now. By 2006 we won’t have a choice,” he said.