Age discrimination claims increase by 79%, Tribunal Service statistics show

David Woods , 01 Jul 2011


The Age and Employment Network (TAEN) has expressed concern over a sharp rise in the number of age discrimination claims and warns the figure is likely to continue rising.

Figures published yesterday (30 June) by The Tribunal Service in its Annual Statistics for 2010/11 show a 'dramatic' rise in the number of age discrimination claims lodged with the service.

The figures show that, in the year up to 31 March 2011, 6,800 age discrimination claims were filed, a rise of 31% per cent on the previous year's number. Since 2008-09, the overall number of claims has risen by 79%.

During 2010/11, Employment Tribunals disposed of 3,700 claims. Of these just 2% (90 claims in total) were successful at Tribunal. Of the remaining 98 % 1500 were withdrawn before coming to a hearing,

Acas conciliated in 35% of the claims, 3% were dismissed at a preliminary hearing, 9% were unsuccessful at a Tribunal hearing and 1% was subject to a default judgement.

Chris Ball, Chief Executive of TAEN - The Age and Employment Network said: "These figures show a dramatic rise in the number of age discrimination claims in the past two years and emphasise the importance of employers becoming more age-aware.

"Against a backdrop of a number of high-profile ageism cases, the ending of the default retirement age and rising levels of redundancy and unemployment, many more people believe that they are being discriminated against. These figures relate only to claims and the majority will not succeed in tribunal, but the sheer numbers suggest that they can't all be wrong.

"With further job losses expected in the public sector and the lingering idea that older workers are a burden, we would not be surprised to see these figures continue to rise.

"Employers must have appropriate policies in place to deal with issues like redundancies, recruitment and pay. In all of these areas, age should be completely out of the equation."

The news comes days after a survey from international law firm Pinsent Masons, revealed just 3% of employers are satisfied with the Tribunal system as it stands, a result further compounded by 97% of businesses revealing that they feel the current system is weighted in the claimants' favour.

The report comes as BIS and the Tribunals Service have launched a consultation to improve the way in which workplace disputes are resolved.

A key area for reform highlighted by the survey is the need for increased Tribunal powers to weed out weak claims, as 81% of respondents reported having received a claim which they perceived as a 'try on' and 78% regularly receive such claims.

As well as highlighting the difficulties that employers encounter with the system, the survey also looked to identify how it can be improved. One problem is the length of time that Tribunals can take, for which 87% respondents in the survey support more claims being heard by a judge alone. The other big bugbear for employers is the lack of regional consistency. 81% of respondents felt that Tribunals were inconsistent between the regions, with 58% believing they were inconsistent even in the same region.

Chris Booth, head of the Employment Group at Pinsent Masons comments: "This report is an important signal to the level of dissatisfaction that exists with the current Tribunal system but also how the system can be best improved to benefit employers and claimants alike. Change is clearly needed and these findings show just how this can be brought about."

This report surveyed 109 respondents from leading UK employers, that together employ over 500,000 employees in the UK, between 10th March and 8th April 2011.


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All generations

Miss K 01 Jul 2011

When referring to age discrimination in employement, it is consistently percieved as being a prejudice against the older generation. However, often the younger generation face similiar problems, but more often that not they do not even realise that there is an age discimination.

Tip of the iceberg

Linda Sutcliffe 01 Jul 2011

The fact that so many claims are dismissed reflects a generally held misunderstanding about constitutes age discrimination. I work in outplacement and there are a lot of very disgruntled people in the older age groups who feel the have been descriminated against in recruitment, but dont know what they can do about it.


Lil 01 Jul 2011

This topic is close to my heart, I spent many months job hunting before I found work and found countless employers who, in one form or another discriminated against the older applicants.Particularly bad were the Agencies - bar one. These rising figures don't shock me at all. Where I work now the youngsters who are there regularly ring in sick, have a bad attitude to work - even though they are nice people, and the mature ones cover the times they are off. I would however far rather retire with my pension at 60 and make way for the younger ones with a family to feed. We have to keep working and do our upmost to be good at our job so as to keep it. I was also ignored when training was offered at work but spoke up and have now arranged it myself

Kind of a given, surely?

Tom 04 Jul 2011

I thought two things with this: Firstly, that there are a lot more people out of work at the moment, so surely the number of claimants of discrimination will increase too. Surely a more realistic figure would be a %age of the total workforce. Secondly, another thing is that people are worried about not being able to get another job, so if they were to lose their current job, they would be more likely to look to a complaints proceedure. I also agree with the first point - I struggled to find another job as I had only 2 years of experience. Yes, that was "my fault" for wanting to improve my life "knowledge", but what about those who lost their jobs just two years after university? They are being discriminated against. I'm very keen on the changing face of HR - how can these young people be effectively organised? They can provide a different type of value to a company, and the system should be changed to accomodate this.

Assistance of technology

Andrew Court 20 Jul 2011

I think one of the key things, where appropriate, is to remove the subjective bias and emotions from employment processes. HR technology processes data rather than looking at the emotions behind the data. For example when recruiting, job applications and CVs can be stored and processed electronically, and from a talent pool you can search, in an unbiased manner, for the best person for the job. The data can be queried according to the key competencies and skills that the employer requires, making the recruitment process much fairer as the most appropriate candidates are identified regardless of age.

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