Age UK fined £4,000 for age harassment

The charity for older people was ordered to pay £4,000 for injury to feelings

A representative of Age UK harassed a job applicant on the basis of age, a tribunal has found.

The charity that supports older people was ordered to pay £4,000 in compensation, as well as an additional £316.50 in interest, to the claimant for injury of feelings.

A spokesperson for Age UK said: “Age UK prides itself on being a fair employer that actively supports and encourages diversity and inclusion in our recruitment. We are sorry that on this occasion an applicant did not experience the normal high standards we strive for.”

It is crucial for employers to be age-inclusive in the recruitment process, Stephanie Kelly, chief people officer at IRIS Software Group, told HR magazine.

She said: "It's more important than ever to build a diverse and balanced workforce, comprised of employees with digital skillsets as well as employees that bring decades of fine-tuned experience and industry wisdom.

“Addressing this issue is crucial, as studies indicate that nearly a third of people aged 50 and older experienced heightened anxiety following the Covid-19 lockdowns.

"As HR professionals, we’re the core champions of diversity, equity and inclusion. Recruitment is the first glimpse candidates get into our organisations, so it’s important to reflect these values from the start."

Half of adults aged 50+ in England have experienced age discrimination in the last year, research from the Centre for Ageing Better revealed in January 2024.

Read more: How employers can make recruitment more age-inclusive

Kelly suggested that employers should embed age inclusion throughout the recruitment process.

She commented: "When considering inclusive recruitment, job applications should be accessible and visible to candidates of all age groups and backgrounds. Redacted CVs should exclude the date of birth question from application forms, which can help eliminate age-related biases.

"Company social media pages and websites which spotlight employees of all ages and show their contributions, skills and experiences can be a great way to build community and attract experienced professionals."

She added: "Offering flexible, consultancy and part-time roles, in addition to full-time positions, can help organisations reach older workers who want better work/life balance."

Read more: Gender and age bias in the workforce: what can we do about it?

HR should also focus on skills over previous experience, said Lyndsey Simpson, CEO of age inclusivity consultancy 55/Redefined.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: "Another tip is that organisations should stop hiring on immediate ‘current and previous role’ experience and technical fit, instead focusing on soft skills, behaviour, motivation and cultural fit criteria."

Simpson added that employers should be trained to tackle ageism in recruitment, or hire older HR managers.

She add that HR should tackle age diversity in their own profession: "It is vital that organisations HR teams are trained in tackling ageism in the recruitment process.

“They should consider hiring older HR managers to make this transition and find new ways of meeting and assessing talent that encourages inclusivity.”