Ageism in the workplace in 2022

What is ageism?

Ageism, in a nutshell, is when someone is unfairly disadvantaged for reasons, which cannot be objectively justified, relating to their age.

Despite being explicitly illegal to single out employees because of their age since 2006 a pre pandemic government report found that discrimination, bias and outdated practices on age grounds exist across many workplaces in the UK.

This research suggests that older workers are regularly singled out as in the jobs market with an inclination towards younger applicants and are disproportionately more likely to be selected for redundancy when this occurs.

This is a deeply worrying set of circumstances, particularly when you consider that over the next 20 years the number of older people in the workplace is set to increase significantly.

So, what is the legal position in the UK?

As previously mentioned, it has been illegal to discriminate based on age in the UK since 2006, with this original finding now being subsumed in to the 2010 equality act.

The key points from this are as follows;


      • The provisions protect people of all ages in employment regarding recruitment, promotion, reward and recognition, redundancy, and vocational training.

      • The provisions apply to all employers, providers of vocational training, trade unions, professional associations, employer organisations and trustees and managers of occupational pension schemes.

      • Occupational pensions are covered by the provisions, as are employer contributions to personal pensions although, generally, the way in which pension schemes work is not affected.

      • The provisions do not affect state pensions.

    The types of discrimination that are covered in the 2010 act cover, direct, indirect, associative, and perceptive discrimination as well as victimisation, and harassment too.

    As a good employer, what practices should I observe?

    Anyone who is involved in recruitment should have an understanding how to create a fair and inclusive, multigenerational workplace.

    Any employee engagement strategy should cover inclusion and diversity as a matter of course, and this should not only include policies that protect employees based on their sexuality, gender or race but should also include a robust age discrimination policy too.

    Despite there not being a legal requirement to have a written inclusion and diversity policy, it is a good practice to have one in place.

    Having a comprehensive current policy, could help a business to distance themselves from liability for acts perpetrated by their employees.

    Having sturdy policy in place will also demonstrate that you take your legal and moral obligations towards being a diverse and inclusive employer with the vigour it deserves. It can also be used as a training tool to try and ensure that all employees deal with others in your business equally and treat ageism seriously.

    Recruiting tips.

    Anyone who is involved with the selection of new employees should understand the causes of age discrimination and learn how to steer clear of it.

    Any age-related criteria should be avoided in recruitment adverts, this is one of the reasons why the team here at Pioneering People will always proof your recruitment advertisements for you before they go live.

    As employers you need to make sure that you treat everyone fairly, regardless of their age, especially when trying to redress imbalances in the average age of your workforce, this is also a key issue that the Pioneering People team will help you to address.

    In addition to this we can also help make sure that any recruitment decisions are based on objective criteria relevant to the job and personal merit.

    If you would like to read more on this subject then the CIPD have produced this guide to age inclusive recruitment which will help your business to become a more age inclusive employer.

    Pioneering People – Ageism in the workplace in 2022