Survey exposes ageism in recruitment ads

A quarter of companies could face legal action if they do not take steps to review their recruitment policies ahead of new age laws that come into effect later this year, a consultancy has warned.

To coincide with Age Positive Week, which is being spearheaded by the government to help employers prepare for the new age legislation, consultancy Water for Fish conducted an audit of 75 recruitment ads in a national Sunday newspaper.

It found that 27% would be potentially open to legal action when the new legislation comes into force. 

Bonita Bryan, consultant at Water for Fish, said: “Although the age legislation does not come into force until later this year, it is worrying that a quarter of companies are disregarding the new requirements in their recruitment drive. 
“Companies need to review their whole recruitment selection process now if they want to ensure that they are going to comply.”

Some common pitfalls include:

  • Asking for an applicant’s date of birth or other date-bound information which may reveal age
  • Requesting a specific number of years’ experience for a position which may adversely disadvantage younger applicants
  • Using particular words or phrases in adverts which might betray the intention to discriminate, such as ‘mature’ or ‘energetic’

“Recruiters need to stay clear of using terminology that directly discriminates on the basis of age, or that my give the connotation that they intend to discriminate. Words such as “energetic, mature, dynamic, fresh, young, old, X years of experience, youthful, new graduate” may fall foul of the regulations,” Bryan said.


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