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The Equality Act 2010 brought together existing regulations that already gave protection against ageism and other forms of discrimination, and extended them.
Since October 2010 this has been the main law relating to age discrimination, protecting you against ageism in employment, education and training.
The law maintains your right not to be disadvantaged or treated badly at work because of your age. It also covers the way you are treated by further and higher education organisations such as universities, and by clubs, associations and trade bodies. The Equality Act gives new protection to ensure older people get fair treatment when they are receiving goods and services, although this part of the Act will not be introduced until April 2012.
In addition to age, under the Equality Act people cannot be discriminated against as a result of any of the other ‘protected characteristics’. These are: disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
There are two types of discrimination which are outlawed by the Equality Act: direct discrimination and indirect discrimination:
If you are subjected to unwanted behaviour that makes you feel intimidated, humiliated, or degraded, or that creates a hostile environment, on the grounds of your age or another protected characteristic, this is harassment. For example, if your colleagues at work repeatedly make jokes about your age, which you find offensive. This also applies if you’re offended by age-related comments made about someone you associate with, such as a partner.
This is when you are treated unfairly as a result of making a complaint about discrimination, or giving evidence when someone else makes a complaint. For example, if you are passed over for a promotion that you would otherwise have been given, after making a witness statement supporting a colleague’s complaint of age discrimination.
An employer may be able to justify discrimination, but they can never justify harassment or victimisation.
For information about what to do if you have a complaint about the way you are treated at work, see dealing with disputes at work.
From April 2012, older people will have more protection when they are receiving a product or service. A service provider must not discriminate against or victimise someone with a protected characteristic by terminating the service or by acting unfairly towards them. The details of this protection are currently being decided and will be available in 2012.
Since 1 October 2011, the default retirement age of 65 has been scrapped. Employers can no longer retire employees over the age of 65, unless they can provide clear justification for this. For more information about the default retirement age, see Default Retirement Age: frequently asked questions. If you have retired and your employer did not follow the right procedure, you can claim unfair dismissal – see dealing with disputes at work for more information.
The Equality Act extended the duty of public bodies (including local authorities) and private individuals carrying out public functions (including GPs), to ensure their decisions and policies are fair and equal. For the first time, the Public Sector Equality Duty covers older people. The duties they have include acting against discrimination, harassment and victimisation, and ensuring people with protected characteristics (including older people) have equal opportunities to others.
Personal office holders are people appointed to carry out a function under the supervision of another person, such as company directors, trustees and members of the clergy. Find out what The Equality Act means to you if you are a personal office holder or business partner.
For further information:
Download the factsheet Equality Act 2010: The Public Sector Equality Duty (PDF 204KB)
Download the factsheet Rights at work (PDF 262 KB)
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Information guide about how to get legal advice when you're facing difficulties
A download is a document (like a research report, a leaflet, or an application form) that can be transferred from our website to your computer. You can download a file, view it on your screen, print it, or save it to your computer.
PDF stands for ‘portable document format’.
Most downloads on this website are PDFs. We use this format to ensure that the document looks the same on everyone’s computer (website pages, by contrast, appear differently depending on how people have set their computer up).
Computers use a program called Adobe Acrobat Reader to download PDFs. If you try clicking on a link to download a PDF and it doesn’t work, you will need to install Adobe Acrobat Reader onto your computer.
The process is quite straightforward and is free.
PDFs cannot be changed. If you need to be able to type into a downloaded document (for example, if we are offering a letter template that you need to put your name on) we will provide it as a Microsoft Word document rather than a PDF. You can then download it, type into it and save it to your computer.
Downloads will open on your computer in a new browser window.
Inside this window (below all your web browser menus), there will be a toolbar with options for you to print or save the document.
Close the browser window to return to the Age UK website.
We have made every effort to make our PDFs accessible to screen readers. Here is an overview of your accessibility options available in Acrobat Reader. Please ensure that you have downloaded the latest version of Acrobat Reader from the Adobe Reader website to ensure that they are included in your version of the programme.
You can use Adobe Reader to read a PDF out loud with the following shortcut keys:
You can also convert a PDF into a web page by following these steps:
You can convert a PDF document into a text file for use with other software and hardware such as Braille printers by opening the PDF and choosing ‘Save as text’ from the File menu.
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