The Facts

Age discrimination, particularly prevalent in regards to children and young people as well older people, can affect people’s health and well-being and their quality of life. It can include the way that groups of people, both younger or older, are represented by media which can negatively influence the attitudes of the general public.

In Wales

The most recent census[1] tells us that there are 519,100 children aged 0-14 in Wales with a further 199,100 aged between 15 and 19. The 211,900 people aged 19-24 mean that there are, in total, 930,100 children and young people in Wales. Children and young people regularly experience discrimination because of their age, and are often excluded or under curfew from being in certain public spaces despite the protections offered with other forms of discrimination. The census also shows that there are 562,400 people over the age of 64 (the traditional retirement age being 65 prior to the pension age reforms in 2011 which will be raise it to 67 by the year 2016)[2] living in Wales. Retirement age is not the same as State Pension age, which can be between 61 and 68 depending on when someone was born and their gender. Anyone can carry on working past the State Pension age and they can’t be discriminated against for choosing to do so[3]. There are estimated to be 10.3 million people aged 65+ in the UK. This is an 80% increase since 1951[4]. It is predicted that one in three people in the UK will be over 60 by 2083. The number of people over 85 in the UK is forecast to double in the next 20 years and nearly treble in the next 30[5]. This is a concern because people above 65 years of age are more likely to suffer ill-health. For people aged 65 years or older, the most common health conditions are physical disability, frailty and sensory impairment, and mental health[6]. 60% of older people in the UK agree that age discrimination exists in the daily lives of older people[7].

Know Your Rights

Unlawful age discrimination takes place when a person is treated less favourably because of their age without ‘objective justification’. The employer or service provider can only use the reason of ‘objective justification’; if they can demonstrate that less favourable treatment is proportionate to meet a legitimate aim[8]. Age discrimination applies to someone who is in or is seeking employment; vocational training, further education or higher education. It can also apply when you access services and goods. However, legitimate reasons for age discrimination can be lawful when providing services, for example the requirement to provide proof of age when purchasing alcohol or cigarettes[9]. It is unlawful because of age to:

  • Discriminate directly against anyone – that is, to treat them less favourably than others because of their actual or perceived age, or because they associate with someone of a particular age unless it can be objectively justified
  • Discriminate indirectly against anyone – that is, to apply a criterion, provision or practice which disadvantages people of a particular age unless it can be objectively justified
  • Subject someone to harassment related to age
  • Victimise someone because they have made or intend to make a complaint or allegation or have given or intend to give evidence in relation to a complaint of discrimination because of age
  • Discriminate against someone, in certain circumstances, after the working relationship has ended, unless objectively justified
  • Compulsorily retire an employee unless it can be objectively justified[8].