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Can an employer justify 'positive discrimination' on grounds of age?
Employers are permitted (but not compelled), where more than one candidate for a job or promotion is equally qualified, to choose a candidate on the basis that they are from a protected group, which includes age. However, to engage in positive action, the employer needs to have identified a need for that action, for example evidence of under-representation in their workplace.
The Equality Act also allows employers to use specific measures to encourage entry or progression of under-represented groups in their workplace, such as advertising positions in publications whose readership is known to be of the under-represented group, encouraging people of a particular age group to take up training opportunities in an industry, or offering mentoring or leadership training to members of the under-represented group.