Is it ever lawful for me to be discriminated against because of my age?

You have the same rights to non-discrimination as adults. These include the right to equality and freedom when it comes to race, gender, religion, colour, origin of birth and disability.

A difference in treatment may be lawful if:

  • Belonging to a particular age group is essential for a job: this is called an occupational requirement. For example, a film company making a film of Oliver Twist may lawfully hire a young boy to play Oliver
  • An organisation is taking positive action to encourage or develop people in an age group that is under-represented or disadvantaged in a role or activity
  • Your employer has set a compulsory retirement age that it can clearly justify in respect of your role: this is known as objective justification
  • The circumstances fall under one of the exceptions to the Equality Act that allow organisations to provide different treatment in employment or services based on age
  • A service provider is making age-related concessions and benefits. For example, a cinema can offer over 60s cheap tickets and special screenings or a GP can offer flu jabs to over 65s

How does age discrimination law protect me?

The laws on age discrimination do not cover as many situations as the other discrimination laws. They protect you against discrimination when:

•            You are trying to get a job or an apprenticeship (including a part-time job after school or during school holidays)

•            You are at work in relation to how you are treated including the pay you receive

•            You are on work experience (even though you are not being paid)

•            You are applying for or taking part in a training course that will help you get a job

•            You are looking for or getting careers advice

•            You are applying for a place or attending college