Job advertisements should not discriminate on the grounds of age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation. For example, if a job advertisement specifies or implies that candidates must be of a particular gender or nationality, it may be unlawful. This also applies to age, although age limits may be justified. However, employers must justify all age limits on objective grounds.
Health, safety and welfare legislation protects young people at work and limits the age at which they can start working. Before employing a young person – that is, someone aged under 18 years – employers must carry out risk assessments that take specific factors into account. This includes, for example, assessing the nature of any physical, biological and chemical agents to which they will be exposed. The risk assessment may conclude that it is not reasonable to employ a young person.
Firefighters must be at least 18 years old before they can join the Fire Service. There is no upper age limit and some entrants join the service in their forties. Given the risks of the job, it is justifiable for job advertisements to say that recruitment opportunities are open only to people aged 18 years and over.
Members of the public may challenge discriminatory advertisements in a court or tribunal, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission may be able to take up a case on your behalf.
If you see an advert that you believe discriminates on one of these grounds, you can contact us with this information. Tribunal claims have strict time limits and it is important to lodge a claim quickly. In most cases, a claim must be received by a tribunal within three months of the act happening that you are complaining about.
Last Updated: 24 Jun 2009