Melton Borough Council

Protected Characteristics

Age and the Law

Age is a “protected characteristic” under the Equality Act 2010.

Under the Act, “age” means belonging to a particular age group. An age group includes people of the same age and people of a particular range of ages. Where people fall in the same age group they share the same protected characteristic of age.

For example:

  • an age group would include “over 50s” or 21-year olds;
  • a person aged 21 does not share the same characteristic of age with “people in their 40s”. However, a person aged 21 and people in their 40s can share the characteristic of being in the “under 50” age range.

Protection for age covers:

  • direct discrimination;
  • indirect discrimination;
  • harassment;
  • victimisation.

Age is the only protected characteristic that allows employers to justify direct discrimination ie if an employer can show the treatment is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. For example, if due to health and safety issues (which is supported by evidence, an employer wanted to proposed an age restriction they may be able to use the ‘objective justification test’ to do this and it would be legal.

New age legislation from 1 October 2012

  • The Equality Act 2010 includes provision to outlaw age discrimination against adults in the provision of services and public functions.
  • This provision became law on 1 October 2012.
  • You can find out more about what the changes mean by visting the websites below

Important: From 1 October 2012, it is unlawful for individuals and organisations to discriminate on the basis of age in: providing (or refusing to provide) goods, facilities or services; and/or carrying out (or refusing to carry out) a public function.

Age useful contacts and links:

Age UK is the charity formed from Age Concern and Help the Aged

Connexions Leicestershire provides advice and guidance to 13-19 year olds.

Employers Forum on Age (EFA). Challenges age discrimination and promotes age diversity in the workplace.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The EHRC champions equality and human rights for all, working to eliminate discrimination, reduce inequality, protect human rights and to build good relations, ensuring that everyone has a fair chance to participate in society.

Pensions and retirement planning – Directgov. A practical guide to advice, support and services available through government and voluntary organisations for people aged 50 and over.

The Age and Employment Network (TAEN). Experts in age and employment.

UKYOUTH is a national youth development charity whose aim is to enable young people all over the UK to raise their aspirations, realise their potential and have their achievements recognised.