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6.1 Age

Tips on Avoiding Discrimination under the Equality Act (2010) for Age:

  • A requirement that the applicant must be ‘active and energetic’ when the job is a sedentary one is an irrelevant criterion

    = discriminatory against some disabled people who may be less mobile.

  • A School/Unit says in a person specification that the successful candidate ‘must have youthful enthusiasm’

    = direct discrimination because of age which the School/Unit could not show to be objectively justified.  What is actually needed is enthusiasm, which can be just as present in someone who the School/Unit does not see as young, so the School/Unit should not include the stereotype in the person specification.

  • Asking for ‘so many years’ experience or being 'recently qualified'

    = indirect discrimination because of age unless this provision can be objectively justified.

  • Avoid less favourably treatment through statements in an adverts. 

    • Example: A School/Unit places an advert online offering jobs to ‘young graduates’.  This could be construed as advertising an intention to discriminate because of age.  An older graduate who is put off applying for the post, even though they are eligible to do so could claim indirect discrimination.

Positive attributes provided by older staff in the workplace:

  • Bring valuable experience and business knowledge.
  • Global reputation which attracts new business/funding.
  • Ability to mentor and train less experienced colleagues by utilising their know-how.
  • May welcome opportunity to work more flexibly to cover unsocial business hours.
  • Tend to have fewer accidents and take less short-term sickness.
  • A minority, with long-term illnesses, tend to withdraw from the labour market and do not seek to work on for longer.

Suggested Alternative Interview Questions:

Age Discriminatory Questions:

Suggested Alternative: 
"You seem a lot younger than your CV indicated." No substitute.
"You are very young. Do you think that you would be able to manage people far older than you?" "This role involves management responsibilities. Talk me through your management experience."
"This role requires someone who can adapt quickly to new methods and absorb training. Do you think that you are too old to be able to do that?" "Give me some examples of when you have been asked to change your role/been given training, and describe how you adapted to it."



Human Resources

University of St Andrews
The Old Burgh School

Abbey Walk
St Andrews
KY16 9LB
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44(0)1334 463096