Creating a fairer Britain
01 October 2012
The Equality and Human Rights Commission welcomes the ban on age discrimination in services which comes into force today in England, Wales and Scotland.
Evidence gathered by the Commission shows older people suffer discrimination due to their age, their treatment being based on stereotypes around their age, rather than as individuals.
This includes not receiving support to allow them to take part in local community activities; support which was available to younger people. In another case, an 84-year-old man waiting for an urgent operation claimed he was told that he'd been put at the bottom of a six-month waiting list and that any cancellations would go to a younger person.
The 2010 Equality Act, makes it unlawful for any organisation providing a private or public service to discriminate against, harass or victimise an adult because of their age, and covers younger as well as older adults.
Members and guests of clubs and associations and anyone at the receiving end of 'public functions'; such as tax collection will also be protected.
The ban is not absolute. Age-differentiated treatment will be allowed if it is covered by one of the exceptions introduced into the Equality Act. If no exception applies, service providers may be able to show that it's 'objectively justifiable' to treat people differently because of their age.
John Wadham, General Counsel at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
"The new ban on age discrimination in services is a significant change in the law; one that the Commission has always supported.
"Most types of beneficial age-based treatment can still continue and many businesses won't need to change their practices. However, everyone should be aware of the fact that the ban has now come into effect.
"Over the next few months, the Commission will be publishing guidance and working with businesses, public bodies and individuals to explain the new regulations."
For more press information contact the Commission’s media office on 020 3117 0255, out of hours 07767 272 818.
The main exceptions to the new ban on age discrimination in services, public functions and associations cover:
There are no special exceptions for health and social care. In these sectors, any age-based treatment must be objectively justified.
Age discrimination in employment and vocational training has been unlawful since October 2006. These age provisions are now consolidated into the Equality Act 2010. http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/advice-and-guidance/your-rights/age/new-law-to-ban-age-discrimination-in-services-public-functions-and-associations-with-exceptions/
The Commission’s inquiry into older people and human rights in home care (‘Close to home’) found evidence of age discrimination in home care services. One of the inquiry’s recommendations was that the ban on age discrimination in services should be brought into effect as soon as possible. http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/legal-and-policy/inquiries-and-assessments/inquiry-into-home-care-of-older-people/close-to-home-report/
On 14 December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly designated 1 October the International Day of Older Persons. The day aims to raise awareness of the impact of an ageing population and the need to ensure that people can grow old with dignity and continue to participate in society as citizens with full rights. The theme of this year’s International Day of Older Persons is: "Longevity: Shaping the Future". http://www.un.org/en/events/olderpersonsday/
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006. It took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation. It encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act and is recognised by the UN as an ‘A status’ National Human Rights Institute. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.