Older workers are being ignored by businesses – and employers are missing the plot.
Interestingly, the research found that 94 per cent of businesses believe that older professionals could provide the key to bridging the skills gap – but only 23 per cent stated that they are actively seeking to employ people over the age of 50.
Employers must not of course discriminate against older workers in favour of younger workers and vice versa.
In law employers cannot discriminate directly by treating a job applicant or employee less favourably because of age without objective justification.This would preclude an employer from passing an employee by for promotion on a belief that because of their age they were not keen to step into a new role.Supposing an employer wrongly believed that a 60-year-old employee was not interested in a senior management role? And supposing the employer’s conduct was influenced by a stereotyped view that the person was too old to want to change their job? This is likely to amount to less favourable treatment because of age; and it would be very difficult for an employer to be able to justify the way the person had been treated.
It is also unlawful for employers to discriminate by applying a provision, criterion or practice that disadvantages job applicants or employees of a particular age group without objective justification. An example of this type of discrimination could be, for example, having an advert stating that the job would suit someone in the first three years of their career. Someone in an older age group would be more likely to have more than three years’ experience, and would be disadvantaged.This is what’s called indirect discrimination.
Harassment, related to age, and victimisation are prohibited too.
Ignoring older workers – and indeed the talent and skills of any candidates/employee – makes no sense whatsoever. There is already a skills shortage in many professions. There are also fears that large numbers of highly skilled EU citizens could be leaving the UK post Brexit.
Employers need to be tapping into all available resources.
If you need advice on age discrimination or require assistance on other employment law issues please call 02037971264.