Ageism in the workplace

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Age discrimination at work is unlawful. You should not be treated any differently to your colleagues because of your age, unless your employer can objectively justify it. For instance, fire fighters and airline pilots can be made to retire at 65 on the grounds of health and safety.

You are protected from age discrimination, or ageism, in all aspects of your employment, including:

• recruitment
• employment terms and conditions
• promotions and transfers
• training
• dismissals.

For example, your employer cannot exclude you from a training course that younger employees are going on because you’re older, and they cannot pass you over for a promotion you would otherwise have been given, on the grounds of your age.

The Equality Act protects you from direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation. Age is one of the ‘protected characteristics’ alongside others including disability, race, religion or belief, and pregnancy and maternity. It is illegal to discriminate against someone because of any of these protected characteristics. For more information on the different types of discrimination and the protected characteristics, see The Equality Act - what it means for you. You can also download the factsheet opens link in new window opens link in new window The law on age discrimination (PDF 205KB).

For further information: 

opens link in new window opens link in new window Download the guide Your rights at work (PDF 1,088 KB)

opens link in new window opens link in new window Download the factsheet Rights at work (PDF 262 KB)

We are grateful for the generous support of Dr Naim Dangoor CBE
and The Exilarch's Foundation

Your Age UK

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Age UK Advice:
0800 169 6565

Useful website

  • Advisory, conciliation and arbitration service (Acas) backed by the Government which works with employees to resolve problems at work through mediation.
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