ACAS publishes new guidance on age discrimination
ACAS has published new guidance on age discrimination for employers and HR professionals. “Age discrimination: key points for the workplace” offers advice on steps to take to prevent age discrimination in the workplace; provides examples of how discrimination may occur; and suggests different methods of dealing with cases of age discrimination should it occur. The aim is to ensure that “staff feel they belong, no matter what their age, and are not disadvantaged or under-valued because of age”.
Age is one of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. As a result, employees are protected against discrimination because of age. The guidance gives useful reminders to employers, including that:
- Age discrimination is not always about an “old person” being preferred over a “young person” because of their age or vice versa.
- An employee does not have to have a minimum length of employment, or any employment at all (in the case, for example, of job applicants) to bring a claim of age discrimination.
- Discrimination may happen in all areas of employment, including recruitment; training; promotion; pay and terms and conditions of employment; performance management; redundancy; retirement; dismissal and flexible working. It goes on to suggest good practice measures which could be adopted.
- Employers should avoid making assumptions about job applicants’ and employees’ capabilities and likely behaviours because of their age, as stereotyping can lead to poor decision making and discrimination claims.
The guidance highlights the legal requirements on employers and suggests good practice measures which can be adopted. It also sets out guidance on when different treatment because of age may be allowed under the Equality Act.
ACAS have also published two short factsheets on “Age discrimination: top ten obligations for employers” and “Age discrimination: top ten myths”.
This guidance gives useful practical examples for employers.
It is important to remember that employers and employees can be liable for acts of discrimination; and that an employer can be liable for an employee’s act of discrimination unless the employer can show that it took all reasonable steps to try to prevent that discrimination.
Employers should have in place policies on equality in the workplace that are well publicised and consistently enforced; and regular equality awareness training, dealing with all aspects of discrimination in the workplace.
27 February 2019
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