The number of age discrimination claims taken to employment tribunals has seen a dramatic increase in England and Wales, according to an analysis of the latest Ministry of Justice data.
Age discrimination claims increased by 74% in the last year, with a 176% rise in between October and December when compared with the same period the year before.
Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less, a jobs site for older people which commissioned the research says “We know that the pandemic has exacerbated age discrimination in both the workplace and the recruitment process. We also know that once made redundant, older workers are more likely to drift into long-term unemployment than their younger counterparts.”
“These factors, combined with the need for many to keep working until they are 66, are leading to a increase in the number of employment tribunal cases based on age discrimination – and it’s likely to get worse.
“Age is a legally protected characteristic, just like gender, ethnicity, religion and disability, but age discrimination is still widely seen as a socially acceptable form of prejudice. It needs to stop.”
Unemployment levels among workers in their 50’s and 60’s have soared in the last year by around 48%, with redundancies among the over 50s hitting a record high in 2020. More than one million workers over the age of 50 are still on furlough, resulting in fears of a new wave of redundancies for this group.
Patrick Thomson, a senior programme manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “As the labour market adapts to the unwinding of furlough, reopening of some businesses and closing of others, many older workers are being caught in the middle. Employment tribunals are often the last course of action for people facing discrimination or unfair treatment in the workplace, and it is worrying to see so many older workers needing to pursue them.
“In the toughest job market in recent memory this really matters,” concludes Thomson. “It has never been more important for employers to make sure they are genuinely recruiting the best person for the job, regardless of age – and retaining their experienced older workforce. De-biasing the recruitment process, creating an age-inclusive culture, and supporting flexible working are all crucial to doing so.”
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Original article here.