Can an employer refuse to hire me because of my age?

Only in very narrow circumstances.

If an employer can show that there is a particular need for someone of a certain age to do a job, this will count as a genuine occupational requirement (GOR) and will not be regarded as unlawful. However, in practice, few recruitment decisions are likely to benefit from this exemption, because of the danger that the employer is making stereotypical assumptions about you because of your age, instead of thinking about your individual aptitudes and skills.

Any GOR should be spelled out clearly in the job profile and/or person specification when you apply for the job.

An employer can refuse to offer you the job if you cannot comply with a statutory requirement. For example, it is not unlawful to refuse to employ a young worker who is not yet old enough to qualify for the driving licence for the vehicle they need to drive.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.