Brain Food: Workplace rights - Age bias in recruitment

Hiring staff is rarely a straightforward exercise, but the age discrimination laws that came into force last month have created fresh banana skins for employers. For example, a job ad using words like 'energetic' and 'dynamic' is not overtly ageist but it could lead a tribunal to infer unlawful discrimination against an older applicant - particularly if accompanied by youthful images. Recruitment programmes restricted to 'recent graduates' also disadvantage older candidates and may now be unlawful: why shouldn't programmes be open to candidates with the required skills and competencies, regardless of whether they are graduates? Businesses recruiting directly from universities via the 'milk round' need to ensure that there are alternative ways for candidates not in higher education to apply for their graduate scheme.

by Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin solicitors, e-mail:employment@lewissilkin.com

Requirements for applicants to have a minimum level of experience will also be open to challenge, on the basis that they discriminate indirectly against younger workers. Now more than ever, employers need to devise open and objective recruitment practices, keep careful records of why candidates were successful or unsuccessful and implement effective equal opportunities policies that incorporate age discrimination.

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