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Age equality

Legislation outlawing discrimination on grounds of age has been one of the last areas of equality law to be developed.


Age discrimination occurs when people are treated less favourably, denied access to jobs or services, or find themselves marginalised because of their age. Most often this happens to young people, or as people get older.

It is now unlawful to discriminate against people because of age in relation to employment and training, when delivering services, and when carrying out public functions. There are some exceptions which enable service providers to go on providing services targeted at specific age groups, to meet the needs of older and younger people. The law in relation to goods and services does not apply to people under the age of 18 years, enabling services to be provided for children, such as schooling, and youth services.

The default retirement age has been abolished. It is now unlawful to force someone to retire when they reach a particular age, except in a number of specific services. This means that people have more choice about when they retire from work, and helps recognise the importance of the skills and experience which many older people can bring to the workplace.

More information on age equality and age discrimination is available from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.