Age discrimination in the workplace comes in many forms and is based on assumptions about the behaviours, skills and attitudes of both older and younger workers.
Direct discrimination: e.g. your employer decides not to promote you because you’re ‘too old’ or ‘too young’
Indirect discrimination: e.g. a new training course is only offered to recent graduates which might exclude older employees
Harassment: e.g. colleagues making comments or jokes about your age
Victimisation: e.g. you’re overlooked for a promotion that you would otherwise have got after making a complaint about age discrimination
The only occasion when age discrimination may be permitted is when it can be deemed ‘a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’, for example in the case of health and safety.
In our 2017 wellbeing survey, 15% of the people we spoke to reported that their colleagues had been affected by ageism by being overlooked for promotions, being asked to retire or feeling undervalued.
Our research also showed that age discrimination not only affected people’s career wellbeing but also their financial security, emotional wellbeing and their work-life balance.
Developing a strong personal brand will help people to think of you in terms of your skills, behaviours and contribution rather than in terms of age. Think about the advantages your age gives you and make them part of your brand. Learn more about personal branding
Raise the issue
If you experience age discrimination at work you can raise a grievance. Acas , a government funded service that helps to resolve workplace disputes, suggests the following steps:
1. Put your grievance in writing and send it to a manager
2. Your employer should arrange a meeting to discuss your grievance. You can bring someone to the meeting with you but you must let your employer know in advance
3. Your employer should then respond in writing to let you know what action they will take
4. You can appeal against this decision. Let your employer know promptly if you intend to do this
CABA offers a free legal advice service to all past and present ICAEW members, ICAEW staff and their families. Arrange a confidential call with an expert advisor today.
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