Age Discrimination Law

The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 came into force last Sunday. Has anyone had any proper legal advice on this yet? I know one ‘Network’ member has just had an investigation launched against him for specifying ‘over 21’ in a job advert for drivers.

There’s a ‘get-out’ in the legislation that allows employers to discriminate if it achieves a ‘legitimate aim’ which apparently means: “Economic factors such as business needs and efficiency. The health, welfare and safety of the individual (including protection of young people or older workers). The particular training requirements of the job.”

You need to be able to show, in writing, why a decision was made to discriminate and have actual hard evidence that supports the decision-making process.

The problem is that there’s no case law on this yet and until there is it will be down to individuals to decide whether knocking a few thousand pounds off an insurance premium is a good enough “business need” to justify discrimination. There doesn’t seem to be much agreement in the legal profession about this either.

Certainly saving a few thousand pounds a year would not be any justification for racial, sex or disability discrimination, so logically the same would hold true for age discrimination, although the laws are worded very differently.

Posted under Employment, Legal Issues, Uncategorized

Posted by Alec at 1:10 pm, October 5, 2006

5 Comments so far

  1. Alec added on  October 6th, 2006 at 12:34

    Kev, I was thinking about this yesterday. Their ‘example’ might well have been deliberate entrapment – they need to get a few prosecutions underway to establish some case law so they can set guidelines as to what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

    The argument that your insurance policy is for over 25s only is a good one BUT remember their argument MAY be that you have the option to pay more for a policy that will allow you to comply with the new law.

    I’ve had 3 different legal opinions on this so far, so it’s a bit of a grey area.

  2. Alec added on  October 6th, 2006 at 12:35

    You’re not allowed to specify how much experience they should have had either because it can be directly related to a minimum age requirement.

  3. Alec added on  October 16th, 2006 at 15:10

    The Jobcentre don’t administer the law and the fact they’ve ‘accepted’ your justification doesn’t mean that it’s valid.

    If it was IMPOSSIBLE to get insurance for under 25s then it would be valid; but if it’s just more expensive to get insurance for under 25s then anyone complaining would very possibly win their case. The problem is that there’s no case law on this yet so nobody actually KNOWS what the industrial tribunals/courts will let through.

  4. Alec added on  October 16th, 2006 at 18:10

    You can most certainly put ‘full clean licence’ in your advert and you’re free to discriminate against anyone based on driving convictions within the last 5 years.

  5. Alec added on  October 17th, 2006 at 10:59

    Yes, that would be discriminatory. That doesn’t mean you can’t say it though: If you can come up with a good enough ‘objective justification’ then you can discriminate all you want.

    I think there’s a very good argument for not employing under 21s, or people with less than 3 years driving experience, on Health & Safety grounds and a slightly less convincing argument for not employing under 25s, or people with less than 5 years experience, on the same grounds. You’d need to get the Government statistics and reports etc together to justify your case though.

    It may possibly be the case that when a complaint eventually goes to the Employment Tribunals they will accept the argument that it costs too much to insure under 25s. There’s a widely held view that this will not be the case though – it’s a broadly similar argument to refusing to employ people in wheelchairs because it would cost too much to have all the office doors widened, or refusing to employ women because it costs too much to train replacements when they go on maternity leave.

    I’m not a lawyer of course and the only legal guidance I’ve had on this has been informal chats with a few legal acquaintances. Has anyone had anything from the DA or RHA about this yet?

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