Age Discrimination if you carry on working?

Do you want to keep on working but worry about discrimination because of your age?

There are now numerous options for retiring or continuing to work after the age of 55. Recent legislation has made it possible to access private pensions from the age of 55, but the age at which you can access the state pension is rising and you may get the New State Pension. You can check what this means for you by using the pension calculator at

As well as working out when you can afford to retire, you will probably want to think about how you would feel about continuing to work and it may help to know your rights regarding age discrimination

Equality Act 2010

As part of this legislation, it is against the law for your employer to treat you unfairly at work because of your age.

Who does the law apply to?

The law about age discrimination at work applies to you if you are in work or applying for a new job. It doesn’t matter how many people work at your firm or how long you have been working for them.

What does the law mean?

  • your employer can’t have rules or practices which put you at a disadvantage at work because of your age
  • your employer can’t put you at a disadvantage because of the age of someone you’re associated with e.g. because you are the carer of an elderly relative
  • your employer can’t bully you or pick on you because of your age e.g. he/she musn’t allow people to make offensive jokes about your age in the workplace (this is called harassment)

There are some exceptions to the general rules

  • if your employer can justify it, he/she may be allowed to discriminate on the basis of age, but if you don’t accept the justification you can make a claim to an employment tribunal who will look at the individual case.

Retirement and age discrimination

Since October 2011 your employer can no longer force you to retire at 65. In most jobs you can choose when you want to retire, but there are some exceptions

If you turned 65 before 1st October and your employer

  • gave you notice by 5 April 2011 at the latest that they wanted you to retire and
  • followed the correct procedure

you have to retire on the date agreed with your employer.

There may also be some jobs where your employer can say that you must retire at a certain age e.g. for health and safety reason, but he/she would need to be able to justify their reason to an employment tribunal.

Job applications and age discrimination

It’s generally against the law for employers to refuse to take you on or promote you because of your age, but again if an employer can justify that it’s necessary to refuse to employ people over a certain age, there may be exceptions.

Unfair dismissal

If you are sacked unfairly you can make a claim for unfair dismissal whatever your age. It’s also unfair to dismiss you because of your age and you may be able to make a claim for unfair dismissal if you have been sacked for this reason.

Redundancy pay and age discrimination

If you are made redundant you’re allowed to get redundancy pay regardless of how old you are, but you must have worked for your employer for at least 2 years. When they’re making staff redundant employers aren’t allowed to discriminate against older employees, but they may be allowed to choose people for redundancy based on how long they have been working for them.

Work pension schemes and age discrimination

The rules about work pensions and age aren’t affected by the law on age discrimination. Employers are allowed to include rules about age in their work pensions schemes.

National Minimum Wage and age discrimination

If you are over 21 you will be entitled to the current National Minimum Wage of £6.50 per hour. There is no upper age limit.

What can you do if you’re treated unfairly or harassed at work because of your age?


Speak to your Trade Union Representative or staff representative if you have one. You can find factsheets on work-related issues at, or https@// You can ring the ACSAS helpline 0300 123 1100


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