In July 2014, I wrote a piece that I posted in LinkedIn on how Age Discrimination despite legislation is still a problem in the UK and has been highlighted in the past week by Business In The Community (BITC) in their report “Pathways back into employment”. you can also see the write-up in Personnel Today.
The following is my original LinkedIn post:
Age discrimination during the recruitment process is a growing problem in the UK.
This is despite that since 1 October 2006 the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations make any discrimination on the grounds of age in employment unlawful. This means that employers and their agents cannot discriminate against employees, job seekers and trainees on the grounds of age. This was further updated by the Equality Act 2010. There is no defined starting point when Age Discrimination starts and the legislation recognises and caters for this.
Someone who is in their 30’s may be likely to face Age Discrimination as much as someone who is 50 +. I was recently contacted by a recruiter who said they had seen my CV on a job board and would I be interested in a role they were handling for a client. During the conversation, they slipped in the question “What is your date of birth?” and almost immediately said, “I’m going to put that on the top of your CV when I send it over to the client!”
Now my date of birth has never been on my CV, in fact, it is bad practice to have it on a CV, as it is also a bad idea to have a photograph on or attached to your CV. In fact, there is a school of thought about removing dates from qualifications as this can unwittingly lead to bias which manifests itself as discrimination. But just recently I have been hearing more and more complaints about age discrimination, and the worse thing is it has been identified by other HR Professionals!
Despite the risks of heavy fines, there appears to be those who are happy to flout the legislation, HR and Recruitment professionals who should know better. The biggest problem is online application forms which will ask your age and date of birth twice, once in the main body under personal details and second in the monitoring information.
Would an employer include a question about ethnicity in the main body of an application form? No! So why should a date of birth feature so prominently? OK there is an issue that employers have a duty under the Immigration and Asylum act to check the identity of a potential employer although it isn’t unlawful to ask age or date of birth on an application form, it is preferable to separate personal details to ensure that any decisions are objective and not based on age If you have a diversity monitoring form, by moving the age or date of birth on the form, the recruitment process can be seen as fairer – these can then be re-introduced at the end of the recruitment process after a decision has been made. Employers should only ask for information which is relevant to the job, and remove anything which is not relevant and has only been included because that’s the way it’s always been done.
Age is one of the Pillars of Diversity
Smart and informed employers know the benefits of a diverse workforce and reap the rewards. As the baby boomer generation retires, employers are going to need to learn to respect and value the skills and experience of older applicants or face being at a major disadvantage with their competitors. If you are interested in finding out more, then you can find more information at The Age and Employment Network or by following the ACAS link above. Remember legislation does have teeth as one employer found out in this Age Discrimination case to their cost! An employer that dismissed drivers over 67 after claiming that its insurance provider would not insure them has admitted liability for age discrimination and unfair dismissal midway through the drivers’ case and has been ordered to pay over £700,000 to 20 drivers.