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Bite-size learning: Age discrimination

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Kick-starting a five-part, bite-sized series, Lucy Lewis, associate in the employment and incentives department of Lewis Silkin spells out just what employers can and cannot say in recruitment advertisements.


Age Discrimination legislation comes into force on 1 October 2006. Following the introduction of the legislation it will be unlawful to discriminate against employees on the grounds of their age (unless this can be justified). This will impact on all aspects of the employment relationship from recruitment to retirement and damages for successful claims will be uncapped.

The experience of countries that already have age discrimination shows that it will be particularly important to avoid suggestions of discrimination from the wording used in job advertisements. We will be examining the sort of wording used by employers in job advertisements and explaining how that may be considered to be discriminatory over the next few weeks.

The example:
Our first example is the use of the word ‘young’. Take this description commonly found in recruitment adverts:

“…young friendly team…”

The lesson:
This doesn’t mention the age of the candidate and the employer may argue that "young" refers to the fact that the company is a start-up. However, it gives a clear impression that the employer is looking to recruit a young person for the role. Words like "young" should be avoided as should other words which may suggest that a certain age group is sought. Employers will have to tackle age prejudices and are unlikely to be able to justify discrimination on the grounds that they wanted someone who would “fit in”.

Next week:
Next week we will look at the use of the following phrase: “…junior consultant…”

Related items

Lucy Lewis can be contacted at: [email protected]

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Annie Hayes

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