Ageism Still Rife in Workplace

Young people are getting a raw deal in the workplace, just before new age discrimination laws come into effect. Contrary to popular belief, a survey from The Employers Forum on Age (EFA) shows that ageism works in both directions – with younger people affected as well as older employees.

The research has been published ahead of the introduction of new age discrimination legislation, which aims to stamp out ageism in the workplace.

According to the study, ageism is rife in UK companies with more than half their employees saying they have experienced it.

The study from EFA also found that 50% of working Britons were unaware that age discrimination in the workplace would become unlawful on October 1. In addition, 16.6 million (61%) of working Britons have been aware of ageist behaviour in their workplace.

Almost a third (31%) said they had worked somewhere where an older person doing exactly the same role as a younger person was being paid more due to their age. Four in 10 (41%) have worked somewhere where people doing the same job were managed differently depending on their age.

Almost one in four (23%) had heard of a younger person in their workplace being overlooked for promotion in favour of an older person, regardless of their having more experience. And more than a quarter (27%) said that they had seen someone being employed because they were of a similar age to themselves and their colleagues, to ensure a good team fit.

The research also found that 50% of working Britons are still unaware that age discrimination in the workplace is to become unlawful.

EFA director Sam Mercer said: “As our research has confirmed, ageism is endemic in our society and rife in our workplaces. These attitudes need to be challenged and outlawed so that they become as unacceptable as sexism or racism.

“This legislation will help provide protection for people who feel that they have been discriminated against on grounds of their age. But as we’ve seen with gender and race legislation in the past, a change in the law marks just the beginning of a long journey towards tackling social prejudices.”