Can An Employer Ask About Age?

Can An Employer Ask About Age?If a job candidate is googling this question after a job interview at your company, you may be headed for trouble.

The Equality Act exists to prevent businesses from hiring or not hiring based on personal characteristics that are not relevant to an individual’s ability to do the job, including their age.  If you intend to grow your business, it makes sense to establish policies and procedures now to help ensure you don’t become a statistic.

What can you do to help keep your business from violating the laws protecting against age discrimination?

Below are a few tips that can help

In your employment adverts, avoid language that could land you in trouble. (For example, “Looking for a young, energetic professional…”)   This includes any mention of age limitations, preferences, and outright specifications in job adverts.  Only use phrases like ‘recent graduate’ or ‘highly experienced’ when these are actual requirements of the job. Otherwise, you could discriminate against younger or older people who might not have had the opportunity to get qualifications.

You may only ask for someone’s date of birth on an application if they must be a certain age to do the job (example: selling alcohol.)

You can ask someone their date of birth on a separate equality monitoring form. You shouldn’t let the person selecting or interviewing candidates see this form. Research best practices for interviewing job candidates by phone and face to face, and get a firm understanding of job interview questions that are unlawful.

Don’t establish company-wide policies or practices if they will adversely affect applicants or employees who are of a specific age group.

Make sure your managers and employees understand that age-related harassment is illegal.

Realize we’ve merely glazed over the tip of the iceberg with the considerations above, so I encourage you to consult with a human resource professional and/or attorney for guidance and feedback on your hiring and employment efforts.

Avoiding a job discrimination lawsuit shouldn’t be a concern that keeps you up at night; it’s something that you need to be vigilant about by having sound standards, procedures, and training in place. You’ve worked hard to bring your business this far – don’t let sloppy hiring practices stand in the way of your success!