Poll reveals unacceptable levels of workplace age discrimination

  • 14% of employees over the age of 50 believe they have been turned down for work due to their age, and nearly half (46%) think their age would disadvantage them when applying for a job. Nearly one in five (18%) have or considered hiding their age in applying for a job since turning 50.

  • The Centre for Ageing Better is launching a report calling for employers to be more age-friendly and inclusive of those over 50, including doing more to tackle age discrimination in the workplace

  • Businesses that fail to retain and recruit older workers face a labour and skills shortage, with a shortfall of younger candidates available to replace older more experienced employees, report warns

Significant numbers of older employees feel they are being discriminated against at work because of their age, including believing they have been turned down for jobs (9%) and being offered fewer opportunities for training and progression (32%), according to a survey published today.

The findings from a YouGov poll of more than 1,100 employees over the age of 50, commissioned by the Centre for Ageing Better, are detailed in a new report launched today to help employers better support older workers. The report, published in partnership with Business in the Community, sets out practical steps for employers to create a more supportive, age-positive culture and boost the candidate pool of older workers.

The survey shows that, since turning 50, 14% of over-50 employees believe they have been turned down for a job due to their age and nearly one in five (18%) have or have considered hiding their age in job applications. Nearly half (46%) think their age would disadvantage them in applying for a job and one in five think people see them as less capable due to their age.

A third of those surveyed (32%) feel they have fewer opportunities for training and progression, 29% don’t think their workplace values older workers and 28% don’t think their managers are good at managing mixed-age teams. Few feel able to talk with managers about future career plans (28%), adjusting their current role (e.g. moving to flexible working) (25%) or retirement (24%).

Age is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act. While 40% of employees over the age of 50 think their workplace has a policy related to preventing age discrimination, nearly half of these people (47%) say it has made no difference.

Lack of support for older workers causes many employees to leave work prematurely. DWP figures show that less than half of people work in the year before they reach State Pension age1. Businesses that don’t retain and recruit older workers could face a labour and skills shortage as experienced staff leave and there are too few younger candidates to replace them, the report warns.