Age discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 includes provisions enabling a ban on age discrimination against adults in the provision of services and public functions. It has been decided to implement the ban on 1 October 2012.

From this date it will be unlawful to discriminate on the basis of age unless the practice is covered by an exception from the ban, or good reason can be shown for the differential treatment ('objective justification').

The decision to implement the age discrimination ban was taken following a consultation on exceptions setting out the circumstances in which it would remain lawful to use age as a reason for treating people differently. We want to ensure that the new law prohibits only harmful treatment that results in genuinely unfair discrimination because of age. It should not outlaw the many instances of different treatment that are justifiable or beneficial.

You can read the original consultation on the archived Government Equalities Office website.

The Government Equalities Office has published guidance for service providers and their customers on the age discrimination ban that is due to commence on 1 October 2012. The Guidance includes an overview of how the ban will work and tailored guides for small businesses, private clubs and the holiday sector. The guidance can be accessed from the Equality Act guidance page of this website. 

Age discrimination Exceptions Order

The government response to the consultation includes the draft Exceptions Order and sets out the way forward. You can also read the impact assessment.

The Exceptions Order will set out the specific exceptions to the ban, which are as follows:

  • age-based concessions
  • age-related holidays
  • age verification
  • clubs and associations concessions
  • financial services
  • immigration
  • residential park homes
  • sport

These specific exceptions will be in addition to:

  • general exceptions already allowed by the Act
  • positive action measures
  • the ability to justify age discrimination by showing, if challenged, there is a good reason ('objective justification')

There are no specific exceptions to the ban on age discrimination for health or social care services. This means that any age-based practices by the NHS and social care organisations would need to be objectively justified, if challenged.

Both the prohibition and the exceptions from the ban will come into force at the same time. Quick-start guidance to support the introduction of the ban will be published on the website ahead of the introduction of the ban.

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