Age Discrimination less likely following abolition of Default Retirement Age

The Default Retirement Age was abolished in October 2011, but today, 5 October 2012, is the final say upon which anyone could effectively be forced to retire at the age of 65, which could result in age discrimination.

Whereas many employers used the DRA as a means of removing “older” employees and re-employing younger, cheaper staff, this will no longer be permitted. Furthermore, in an age when the population is both living and working longer, with some individuals working well into their seventies, the DRA had become less relevant.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK, commented: “The end of the Default Retirement Age is a major milestone in the fight against age discrimination. We hope that now it is illegal to force someone out of their job simply because they are 65 or over, it will make employers look beyond their staff’s date of birth.”

However, Age UK were keen to stress that there are still large numbers of people over the age of 50 who find themselves redundant or unemployed, and who find it much harder to secure new employment as a result of their age. Statistics show that just under half of all unemployed men and over forty per cent of women have been unemployed for a year or more. Some high profile retailers including B&Q are recognised for their efforts to employ older staff, but the issue of over-50s struggling to find employment – subject in many cases to age discrimination in the recruitment process – is still a major issue in the UK.

Examples of discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of age might include not having been fairly considered in the application process, lost the possibility of a promotion because of their age or had difficulties with pensions or additional benefits.

If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your age, it is important to file a claim within 3 months of the most recent incident. Discrimination cases can encompass any situation or issue where you feel you were treated less favorably on the grounds of your age. However it is important to remember that unlike discrimination claims on the grounds of race or gender, age discrimination by an employer can be defended on the grounds that it was justified, i.e. a film production company requires a younger actor to play a particular character.

If you feel you have the grounds for an age discrimination claim and would like to verify your situation or bring proceedings, give us a call for free on 0800 014 8727 for an informal and confidential discussion. Our experienced legal team can help you resolve your conflict, from agreeing a mutually-acceptable financial settlement or representing you at an employment tribunal.