Age is a legally protected characteristic, just like gender, ethnicity, religion and disability, but age discrimination is still widely seen as a socially acceptable form of prejudice.
Unemployment levels among workers in their 50s and 60s have soared by 48% over the last year, and redundancies among the over-50s hit an all-time high in 2020.
More than 1 million workers over the age of 50 are still on furlough, raising fears that a new wave of redundancies may be on the horizon for this age group.
The number of age discrimination claims taken to employment tribunals has increased dramatically in England and Wales since Covid lockdown, according to an analysis of Ministry of Justice data. Claims increased by 74% over the last year, with a 176% rise between October and December 2020 compared with the same period the year before.
Patrick Thomson, a senior programme manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Employment tribunals are often the last course of action for people facing discrimination or unfair treatment in the workplace, and it is worrying to see so many older workers needing to pursue them...We know a third of people in their 50s and 60s feel their age disadvantages them in applying for jobs, higher than any other age group.”