The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 transpose Article 13C of the European Equal Treatment Framework Directive into UK law. The regulations give a right to workers (young as well as old) not to suffer direct or indirect discrimination, harassment, or victimization on the grounds of age. However, the regulations are weaker than those relating to other equality strands, such as sex, race, or disability. For example, direct discrimination is only allowed under other equality law in cases where there is a narrowly defined genuine occupational requirement. In the age regulations, in contrast, direct discrimination can be justified in a much broader range of settings provided it is a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’. Examples of lawful direct discrimination in government guidelines include minimum age requirements for access to benefits, pay increases or promotion, and a maximum age for the employment of trainees. The regulations also allow continued use of seniority to determine benefits and payments, the use of age-related factors in administering occupational pensions, and continued use of mandatory retirement. Genuine occupational requirements are also included in the regulations, covering the use of workers of a particular age for modelling and acting assignments. The age regulations have been widely criticized by campaigners on behalf of older workers who claim that there is excessive qualification to the right not to suffer age discrimination thereby making the legislation less effective.
Subjects: Human Resource Management.