Age bias cases rocket by THREE-QUARTERS as firms ditch older staff


Age bias cases rocket by THREE-QUARTERS as firms ‘ditch older staff’ during Covid pandemic

  • Cases of alleged workplace age discrimination rose by 74 per cent last year 
  • Analysts said the figures from the MoJ showed how firms tried to shed workers 
  • Highlighted pressure on employees to keep working due to rising pension age

Age discrimination complaints shot up by almost three quarters last year, according to shocking figures that lay bare Covid’s toll on older workers.

Cases brought by employees who said they had suffered at work or lost jobs or promotions because of their ages rose by 74 per cent last year – from 2,112 in 2019 to 3,668.

Analysts said the figures from the Ministry of Justice showed how financially-squeezed firms had tried to shed workers during the pandemic.

They also highlighted the pressure on older employees to keep working due to the rising state pension age – from 65 to 66.

Cases brought by employees who said they had suffered at work or lost jobs or promotions because of their ages rose by 74 per cent last year – from 2,112 in 2019 to 3,668

It came as the number of sex and disability discrimination claims brought before tribunals dropped and those for race discrimination rose marginally – from 3,858 to 4,008.

However, Stuart Lewis of Rest Less, an advice website for over-50s, warned that the number of age discrimination cases was ‘likely to get worse’. 

He said: ‘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 to access the safety net of the state pension, are leading to an increase in the number of employment tribunal cases based on age discrimination.’

Patrick Thomson of 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.

Analysts said the figures from the Ministry of Justice showed how financially-squeezed firms had tried to shed workers during the pandemic.

Analysts said the figures from the Ministry of Justice showed how financially-squeezed firms had tried to shed workers during the pandemic.

‘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.

‘We know that age is often the last unspoken and accepted form of discrimination in the workplace.’

The tribunal figures come as younger people and students who have been hard hit by the pandemic have seen job opportunities suddenly available in large numbers because of recruitment by pubs, restaurants and hotels desperate to get staff to cope with large numbers of returning customers.

Compensation awards by tribunals for age discrimination claims are unlimited, as is also the case for race, sex, sexual orientation and disability discrimination claims.

Tribunals typically order compensation of less than £1,000 where employers are found to have acted wrongly in a minor way on a one-off occasion, but payments can go up to over £40,000 for serious cases involving repeated or protracted ill-treatment.

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