What is age discrimination?

Age discrimination occurs when an individual is unfairly disadvantaged for reasons relating to their age that cannot be objectively justified. Unfortunately, age discrimination affects many people, for example, young workers may be underpaid or belittled, and older workers may miss out on jobs because of their age. Thankfully, in the UK we have the Equality Act 2010 which legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.

There are four main types of age discrimination:

  • Direct discrimination: This happens when someone treats you worse than another person in a similar situation because of your age.
  • Indirect discrimination: When an organisation has a particular policy or way of working that applies to everyone, but which puts people of your age group at a disadvantage.
  • Harassment: Occurs when unwanted conduct based on someone’s age makes them feel scared, humiliated, or degraded.
  • Victimisation: This is when you are treated badly because you have made a complaint of age discrimination under the Equality Act. It can also occur if you are supporting someone who has made a complaint of age discrimination.


Research Findings

Many studies have explored age discrimination in the workplace, and the findings have highlighted the vast number of people who are affected by it.

Firstly, according to a study conducted by CV Library, a staggering 70.8% of workers in the UK reveal discrimination around age is common in their workplace. The CV library study also found that more than half (57.1%) of under 18s feel they’re not taken seriously at work, because of their age.

Secondly, a study carried out by 55/Redefined, found that 68% of over 55s feel the jobs market is closed to them, and nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents feel forced to retire before they want to.

 Similarly, a study conducted by Centre for Ageing Better found that a third (32%) of current employees feel they have had fewer opportunities for training and progression as they get older.

Finally, Glassdoor’s survey found that 48% of employed 18-34 year old had reportedly experienced age discrimination.


How to prevent age discrimination in the workplace
  1. Reassess the recruitment process: Hiring managers should be trained on how to avoid discrimination so they make recruitment decisions based on objective criteria relevant to the job. Here are a few ways they can actively work towards doing this:

-Pay close attention to the language that is being used in job descriptions and avoid using words that suggest that the organisation is looking for applicants from a particular age group.

-Publish job adverts in several locations to attract a cross section of applicants.

-Avoid age-related interview questions.

  1. Put policies in place: Organisations need to have clearly defined policies in place, which all employees are aware of, that stresses that unfair treatment based on age will not be tolerated.
  2. Offer equal opportunities: Employees of all ages should be eligible for training programmes that will aid their professional development.
  3. Introduce discrimination and diversity training: Provide employees with training that helps them to understand the benefits of age diversity and the repercussions of discrimination in the workplace. Additionally, an organisation should consider introducing team-building exercises to encourage employees from different generations to work together, creating a collaborative environment.
  4. Create a welcoming culture: Create a culture that is welcoming to all individuals and helps to make all employees feel accepted and valued for their individuality.


In summary, age discrimination in the workplace is a rife issue which unfortunately affects many people. Organisations should therefore work towards actively preventing age discrimination by implementing the tips provided to help make their working environment a more inclusive and welcoming place for everybody.