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New Acas age discrimination guidance

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Acas has published new guidance on age discrimination at work, which can be found here.

According to Acas, age discrimination is one of the most common forms of unfair treatment at work. Both younger and older employees across the UK experience discrimination based on their age. The guidance aims to support employers in preventing unfair treatment at work and eradicating bias against older and younger workers.

The guidance features information on activities and processes in the workplace where there is an increased risk of age discrimination happening. A number of pitfalls are highlighted, including:

  • managers must not suggest, assume or try to force an employee to retire, although any employee can be asked (albeit carefully) about their work plans in the short, medium and long term from a workforce planning perspective, for example during an appraisal;
  • when recruiting, it is preferable to set out the types of experience required for a post, rather than to require a number of years’ experience; and
  • managers should not allow any bias to play a part in decisions regarding promotions or when allocating training opportunities – assumptions should not be made about an employee based on their age, including in relation to their ambitions and training needs. 

The guidance also advises on the risks of using ageist language and stereotyping within the workplace, and when an employer may lawfully treat an employee differently because of their age.

Acas has also published information for employees or job applicants who feel that they have been discriminated against and how they may raise their concerns.

The guidance serves as a reminder of the importance of treating employees consistently, no matter what their age. Employers of all sizes should ensure that their managers are aware of the high risk areas outlined in the guidance and review their recruitment and performance management procedures to ensure that they are not discriminatory.