Age discrimination in the workplace
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Age discrimination in the workplace

Age discrimination has been very much a part of the main news recently with the trial which saw racing pundit John McCirick suing Channel 4 for terminating his contract. They claimed it was due to his public image and their need for a change of style whilst he claimed that their decision was made due to his advancing age.

As it was, McCirick was unsuccessful. However, the case has ensured that many of the people who have HR jobs in Surrey have taken the time to ensure they are aware of the current laws relating to age discrimination, as well as recommending that their employers do the same.

The problem for the employer

Of course, anyone who has felt discrimination at work or elsewhere will be able to confirm the unjustness they felt. However, for many employers the actual act of discrimination is accidental. This isn’t a defence in any way but it can often be the case that discrimination, especially that on the grounds of age, is unintentional.

It is worth mentioning however that the after effects for both the victim and the business are the same. The victim will still feel victimised whilst the business may suffer damage to their reputation and their staff morale afterwards. Therefore, it is essential for businesses to ensure they are fully appraised with what they can and cannot do under the law.

The law

Age discrimination has been illegal in the UK since 2006 when it was officially added to the list of unlawful forms of discrimination. As a result, no employer or employee may discriminate against someone because of their age. It is the legal obligation of the business not only to ensure that they themselves do not break this law but also that nobody else within their employ does.

Under the Equality Act 2010, which replaced the existing laws, a person is protected from discrimination at all stages of their employment, going from their pre-employment and interview to their dismissal (where appropriate) and covering all stages in between.

There have, for example been several cases where an employer is found to have discriminated against an applicant. One such case saw a person who advertised for a person with “youthful enthusiasm” and was found to have discriminated against a 58 year old who was not given the role despite having the right qualifications and experience.

At the opposite end of the scale was an 18 year old qualified beautician who was not given a job because assumptions were made as to her ability based on her age rather than her experience and performance.

The importance of having a Human Resources professional

As a result of the above, it is imperative as well as a legal obligation that employers take the utmost of care when wording vacancy advertisements, dismissal notices and redundancy notices. It is because of the various legalities surrounding all forms of discrimination that many businesses choose to advertise HR jobs in Southampton, as HR professionals have a full and up to date knowledge of all elements of discrimination laws.