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.

Also, the Equality Act 2010 does allow positive measures to prevent or compensate for disadvantages linked to a protected characteristic, such as age. This could include advertising positions in publications whose readership is known to be of a particularly under-represented group in the employer’s workforce, or encouraging people of a particular age group to take up training opportunities in an industry.

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.