Over the last couple of years, age discrimination claims have shown a marked increase which in part is attributable to the changes in legislation around the Equality Act and the demise of the Default Retirement Age (DRA). There have also been a number of high profile ageism cases which have added fuel to the fire.
What does this increase tell us? Firstly, it tells us that employees are becoming savvier about age discrimination and what the law says. It’s clear from the volume of claims however, that employers are not as clued up on what can constitute age discrimination and how to avoid such claims in the first place.
When it comes to age discrimination, job advertising gives the richest pickings for potential claims. Employers are still using language in their job adverts which could prompt claims of age discrimination. Examples of these words or phrases include:
- Just finished school/school-leaver
- Recent graduate.
Using potentially discriminatory language is never recommended, however, employers also need to actually discriminate against a prospective employee before a claim can be justified. That means rejecting a CV on the basis of the candidate’s age, despite the fact that they are sufficiently qualified to do the job. The employee must be able to prove that they were rejected because of their age and therefore the victim of discrimination.
In order to avoid such age discrimination claims, employers should:
- Take care when drafting job advertisements to avoid any potentially discriminatory language, ensuring that the job advert only specifies the information that’s relevant to the job
- Write detailed and objective job descriptions to show the skills and qualities needed in the role
- Train staff responsible for recruitment to ensure that they shortlist CVs on the basis of objective criteria relating to skill sets rather than subjective information like the candidate’s age
- Ensure notes are taken to back up any decisions and consider the use of a scoring system to prove objective decision-making in the event of any queries
- Consider providing discrimination awareness training for staff