Whatever our age, we all deserve respect and fair treatment at work. But many workers, at different times in their lives, feel like they’re discriminated against because of their age.

Whether it’s against young workers or older workers, age discrimination is against the law. You shouldn’t be refused a job, paid less or subjected to bullying or harassment based on your age.

Your employer shouldn’t indirectly discriminate either, by having requirements that are harder for you to meet than for people of other ages.

You’re also protected against discrimination by association, which means, for example, that an employer can’t treat you worse because you have young children or elderly parents.

The law allows employers to treat workers differently for reasons linked to age in some circumstances, but only if there’s a very good reason. For example, if a particular job genuinely requires many years of experience. But it’s up to the employer to prove this.  

If you feel you’re experiencing discrimination, you can take action to enforce your rights.

Very often, the best way to solve problems is to join with co-workers – through the union if you have one - and try to reach an agreement with your employers on how to make the workplace fairer for everyone. 

Are you a rep? You can find more practical advice on a range of workplace issues in our support for reps section

Common
questions
Who is covered by laws against age discrimination?
The protections contained in the Equality Act 2010 apply to all job applicants and workers, including agency and contract workers, office holders (e.g. public appointees), the police, barristers and members of the armed forces.
What kind of age-related discrimination am I protected from?
You're protected from not being hired because of your age, being dismissed, turned down for promotion, denied training or given less favourable contract terms.
Do I have to give my date of birth on a job application form?
Many employers have chosen to stop asking for ages or dates of birth on application forms. However, although they must comply with data protection law in handling job applications, it is not automatically unlawful for employers to ask for this information.