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15 Equal Opportunities
13. Discrimination because of your age
There are currently no laws to stop people or organisations from discriminating against you because of your age. At work, for example, employers are allowed to take into account people’s ages when recruiting, or when choosing workers for promotion or redundancy. If you are under 65 and have worked for an organisation for at least two years, you are legally entitled to redundancy pay. But an employer can insist that you retire when you reach a certain age (usually 60 or 65).
The ‘Code of Practice on Age Diversity in Employment’ is a set of government guidelines about how employers should not discriminate because of age. It is not law, but it sets out what employers should do to be fair to people of all ages in:
It covers things like how jobs are advertised and how interviews are carried out. See ‘Further help’ for how to find out more about the Code.
If you are already in work, your employers may also have their own equal opportunities policy which covers age discrimination. If they do, and they don’t follow it, they could be breaking your contract of employment, and you could bring a claim through an employment tribunal, or the courts.
Early in 2001 the Government announced it would be introducing laws on age discrimination at work, to keep to the European Union Equal Treatment Directive. This is meant to stop discrimination in all European Union countries. But these new laws are not due to come into force until December 2019.
However, if you think you were dismissed or made redundant unfairly because of your age, you can still take a case of unfair dismissal to an employment tribunal or to court under the Employment Rights Act (see ‘Going to an employment tribunal’). If you were a public-sector employee (that is, you worked for the Government or a local council, for example) you may also have a claim under the Human Rights Act (see ‘The Human Rights Act’).
Leaflet Version: December 2019