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 Implications of age discrimination legislation

The ageing population means that employers benefit from the fact that older people are interested not only in full time work, but also in part-time & contract work, thus offering greater flexibility.

The law affects employers, training & education providers, trade unions and professional associations. The last two must also be aware that legislation affects them not only as employers but also from the point of view of membership.

The law covers all aspects of recruitment and selection, training & development, promotion, pay & benefits, statutory redundancy and retirement ages; and protects job applicants, working people, people on training, people seeking training, crown appointed people, and members & applicants to trade unions and professional bodies

The law includes direct and indirect discrimination and harassment, but there will be exceptions if they can be justified, “and there is supporting evidence”.


The EU directive states that differences in treatment may be permitted where they are:


"objectively and reasonably justified by a legitimate aim, and if the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary


Legitimate aims may include health & safety, facilitation of employment planning, training requirements, encouraging or rewarding loyalty, and the need for a reasonable period of employment prior to retirement. Access to vocational training for particular categories to promote their vocational integration is also being considered as a justification for different treatment.

Only case law will establish what is acceptable!


There are key implications for employers

A company needs to review its procedures and consider the issues relating to company retirement plans, recruitment & selection procedures, promotion procedures, training & development processes, remuneration schemes, and termination policies. A company needs to implement an age audit and assess the implications of the results.

The aim is to be able to justify your position.


More challenges arise from hiring of temps, flexible working, sickness entitlement, insurance and discipline procedures


All is not doom and gloom however - a company should look for the upside by considering whether there may be new business opportunities by filling the age gaps that become evident from an age audit. Companies such as B&Q, The Halifax and Domestic & General Insurance identified bottom line’ benefits from employing older workers.


These benefits have come about due to the characteristics that older workers bring with them, such as a mature approach enabling them to relate well to their peers, take on greater responsibility, a high degree of loyalty leading to reduced turnover costs, reduced training costs because many experienced workers require little more than induction training, a strong work ethic giving greater productivity, and increased sales by ‘mapping’ front line employees with consumers.

Employment and recruitment agency for mature people, providing jobs and work for experienced persons