When and where could age discrimination take place?

A ban on age discrimination in services, public functions and associations came into force on 1 October 2012. 

People can encounter unlawful age discrimination at work and in education and training.  There is now a ban on age discrimination in the provision of services, carrying out public functions and activities of clubs and associations. 

Working and earning

An example of direct age discrimination in employment would be an IT company with a policy of not recruiting older employees because they didn’t fit in with the youthful culture of the company. Age discrimination legislation applies throughout employment: from recruitment advertising to pension rules. However, there are circumstances in which age discrimination is allowed. See When is age discrimination lawful?’.

Vocational learning and training

The opportunity to learn and receive training should be open to all, and educational providers at institutions of further and higher education are covered by age regulations. An example would be a 16 year-old who applies for a vocational training course to enhance her promotion opportunities within her company. She is refused entry to the company’s training scheme on the grounds that she is too young. Under age discrimination her employer would not be allowed to prevent her from seeking further training because of her age.

However, it can sometimes be justifiable to adopt an age-specific approach to the delivery of vocational education or training – provided this is a fair means of achieving a genuine aim. An example of this would be an educational institution that increases the participation of a particular age group on a training course to ensure that this section of the population is integrated into the workforce. This is an example of positive action, which is discussed further below.

If you feel you have been treated unfairly because of your age, you can find out more about how to take action from the 'Using your rights' section.

Last Updated: 30 Sep 2014