Huge rise in age discrimination complaints in employment tribunals

9 June 2021

A digital community for the over-50s has published research highlighting that the number of age discrimination complaints to employment tribunals increased by 74% in the last year.

Rest Less analysed tribunal statistics data from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and found that the number of receipts under the jurisdiction of age discrimination reached 3668 in 2020, up from 2112 in 2019.

Age discrimination saw the biggest year-on-year increase of all other specific jurisdictional complaints with the total number of complaints in employment tribunals actually decreasing year-on-year from 183,207 in 2019 to 180,430 in 2020.

Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, said: “We know that the pandemic has exacerbated age discrimination in both the workplace and the recruitment process. We also know that once made redundant, older workers are more likely to drift into long-term unemployment than their younger counterparts, raising fears about the sustainability of the UK’s recovery if we don’t have a jobs plan that works for people of all ages.”

With more than one million workers over the age of 50 still on furlough, he went on, and business concerns around the potential for new virus variants to delay re-opening, a new wave of redundancies may be on the horizon.

Although age is a legally protected characteristic, the same as gender, ethnicity, religion and disability, Mr Lewis suggested that age discrimination is still widely seen as a socially acceptable form of prejudice.

“Age discrimination is unfair, unacceptable and has long-term damaging consequences on both the individuals involved and wider society”, he concluded. “It needs to stop.”