Discrimination on the grounds of age is divided into direct discrimination, including victimisation and harassment and indirect discrimination.
Direct age discrimination is where, on the grounds of a person’s actual or apparent age, the employer treats a person less favourably than they treat or would treat others. Unlike other types of direct discrimination such treatment will not amount to direct age discrimination if the employer can demonstrate that the less favourable treatment is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim
Indirect age discrimination is where the employer applies a provision, criterion or practice in relation to a person’s age or age group which puts (or would put) a person or people of that age (or age group) at a disadvantage and is not a proportional means of achieving a legitimate aim.
A person may still be able to bring a claim based on less favourable treatment on the grounds of their perceived age even whether or not this is their actual age.
Age discrimination arises in a variety of contexts - from recruitment, how employees are treated during employment and through to the reasons for termination of employment. Age discrimination can affect people of all ages and age ranges.
In some situations either direct or indirect discrimination may be lawful. This may be where there is a genuine occupational requirement, or for the purposes of providing certain benefits such as health insurance or pensions or calculating statutory redundancy pay. However employers should be careful to take legal advice in each circumstance before committing to an act which could potentially lead to an allegation of discrimination.