Equality Act 2010 – exploring age discrimination

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Blog, Safeguarding Policy

In this series of blogs we’re exploring the Equality Act 2010.

In this blog we are looking specifically at the protected characteristic of age.

Let’s explore:

Age is a protected characteristic from discrimination in the Equality Act 2010 and applies to discrimination at any age. This occurs when you’re treated unfairly because of age and it is unlawful unless the discrimination can be justified.

The Act states you can be discriminated against directly, indirectly, by harassment and victimisation.

Let’s take a closer look at what each of these mean in the context of age.

  • Direct Discrimination

This is when you are treated or you treat someone at a disadvantage because of your age in comparison to another person of a different age group but is reasonably like yourself (comparator). This could include being refused general job training that all the younger members of staff are involved in. This can be done based on:

  • Your actual age.
  • The age you are perceived as.
  • An age you are associated with.

The associated age could be anyone you are involved with such as your friend or your spouse. Direct age discrimination was successfully claimed in the Employment Tribunal for Mr Graham v MHD Builders Ltd and Gareth Hyne 2019. It was proven that Mr Graham’s age was a significant influence for sending the threatening email when referring to his ‘attitude’ and that he had ‘a lot of maturing’.

  • Indirect Discrimination

This is when a policy or practice, usually of a company, results in your age being put at a disadvantage. The policy will be one that applies to all and is rarely intentional but still negatively effects an age group.

e.g., a company advertising for a job that needs 10+ years is automatically putting older age groups at an advantage over younger who are just starting their careers.

  • Harassment

Humiliation, embarrassment and intimidation from another all come under the title of harassment. This can include jokes about age related features such as wrinkles or referring to someone as ‘baby face’. This was claimed successfully in Robson v Clarke’s Mechanical Ltd 2020 when Robson was referred to as ‘Half Dead Dave’ by staff which a younger member of staff wouldn’t have been called that.

This also applies to people you’re associated with experiencing harassment too like in direct discrimination. This can occur by being excluded by staff. For example, if the staff organise a night out together and you are the only one not invited because they think you’re too young or too old to be with them. It may also come in the form of feeling pressure to retire.

Age-related harassment can also include a third party such as a client or customer. A claim can be made if your employer knew about this on at least 2 occasions and does nothing to help you.

  • Victimisation

This is when you’re treated unfairly because of making a complaint under the Equality Act 2010 either for you or someone else. It can also include giving evidence of discrimination in a complaint that has already been made. To prove this, you don’t need to compare yourself to another.

Looking at age can sometimes be necessary for the work you’re doing or wanting to do if there is ‘proportionate means achieving a legitimate aim’. This simply means there must be good reason for age to be a factor. This is acceptable where there is positive action such as hiring aged 18-21 years olds in a job where they are underrepresented.

These are only examples and there are very many ways you could be discriminating someone or you could be discriminated against. Make sure you check your policies and processes and have clear guidelines in place for considering matters where age may be a factor. Within education there may be a view someone is too young or too old to be attending a particular programme or to reside in particular accommodation. Maybe even to be put forward for an apprenticeship or scholarship.

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As we conclude our overview of the Equality Act 2010 within higher education, the journey doesn’t end with understanding its importance; it begins with taking decisive action to create safer spaces for everyone. This is where the Safeguarding Leaders Hub comes into play—a community dedicated not just to learning but to leading change.

Joining the Safeguarding Leaders Hub isn’t merely a sign-up; it’s a step towards becoming part of a movement. A movement where knowledge meets action, where resources are not just shared but implemented, and where each member is committed to elevating safeguarding standards within their sphere of influence.

By becoming a member, you gain access to a wealth of resources, training modules, expert advice, and a network of like-minded professionals. But more importantly, you become a beacon of change. Each member’s active participation and contribution amplify our collective ability to protect and empower those we serve.

So, as we part ways in this blog post, let this not be the end of your journey with safeguarding but a bold step towards becoming a leader in this critical field. Join the Safeguarding Leaders Hub today. Embrace the opportunity to make a difference, to learn, share, and lead by example. Together, we can forge a future where safeguarding is not just a policy but a culture embedded in the very fabric of our organizations.

The time to act is now. Become a member of the Safeguarding Leaders Hub, and let us transform our collective commitment into tangible actions that safeguard the well-being of our communities. Let’s not just be participants in this crucial conversation; let’s be the leaders who shape its outcome. Join us, and together, let’s lead the way to a safer tomorrow.

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Content Disclaimer

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Safeguarding Practitioners Ltd & Kate Flounders disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.

 

 

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