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The law

The Equality Act outlaws discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the basis of age. However, unlike other areas of the legislation, discrimination on the basis of age can be lawful if it is objectively justified.

For example, workers under 18 are entitled to a daily rest period of 12 hours, a weekly rest of 48 hours and a 30-minute break if working more than 4.5 hours. Employees who have not achieved set standards in education are also entitled to reasonable paid time off for relevant training.

Our guidance

Prospect supports guidelines for good practice issued by the Department for Work and Pensions to promote the benefits of employing a mixed-age workforce, including:

  • Removing age limits from recruitment advertisements and avoiding using words like “young” or “mature”
  • Using a mixed-age interview panel in the selection process, wherever possible
  • Promoting people on the basis of measurable performance and demonstrated potential rather than age
  • Offering employees of all ages the opportunity to train and develop themselves, and encouraging reluctant older and younger workers by using employees who have benefited from training as role models
  • Basing redundancy decisions on objective, job-related criteria. Automatically making workers over a certain age redundant, or operating a “last-in-first-out” system, will lead to a loss of key knowledge, skills and corporate memory
  • Agreeing on a fair and consistent retirement policy with employees, offering pre-retirement support and, where possible, considering flexible or extended retirement options.

Public resources for age

Please let us know if any of the links on this page are not working by emailing so that we can either remove or fix them where possible.

Prospect resources for equality and diversity

Prospect provides advice and guidance on a range of equalities issues, which can be accessed under the Resources tab in the left-hand navigation menu. This includes links to guides, posters and leaflets etc.