Acas launches new guidance to help prevent age discrimination at work

Research has found that staff aged over 50 now make up nearly a third of the UK workforce and the numbers of older workers are steadily rising.

Young and older employees, and staff of any age, can become victims of age discrimination at work. Acas' new guide offers employers essential advice on how to comply with the Equality Act, which protects employees against discrimination based on age.

Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said: 

"Discriminating against someone due to their age is against the law and employers should ensure their work environments are inclusive.

"Assumptions such as older workers not knowing how to use the latest tech or younger workers spending all of their time on smart phones may seem harmless but the effect of age stereotypes can have a detrimental impact on staff and employers.

"Age stereotyping can make people feel demotivated at work or quit their jobs which can cost businesses through a loss in productivity or talented staff. Our new free guidance can help employers make workplaces welcoming for staff of any age and includes advice on the law around age discrimination."

The new Acas advice includes guidance on recruitment, training, performance management and redundancy and other areas where age discrimination may be most likely to occur.

The guidance is also accompanied by a myth-busting document. Top myths include:

Myth - Some employers think older staff are more likely to be off work ill.

Fact - Research shows sickness absence rates are similar across all age group.

Myth - Older people staying in work stops young people getting a job

Fact - There is no evidence for this. Forecasts suggest more older staff will be needed to stay in work.

View the new guidance 'Age discrimination: key points for the workplace' and myths.

Notes to editors

  1. For media enquiries please contact lowen@acas.org.uk. For out of hours media enquiries please call the out of hours duty press officer on 0330 109 7070. 
  2. Research by Centre for Ageing Better https://www.ageing-better.org.uk/news/uk-employers-unprepared-ageing-workforce
  3. The Acas guidance can be viewed at www.acas.org.uk/agediscrimination
  4. Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Acas provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. We support good relationships between employers and employees which underpin business success. We also provide good value, high quality training and tailored advice to employers. Our expertise is based on millions of contacts with employers and employees each year. Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law.