When recruitment decisions based on age are lawful

A 67-year old job applicant could not claim age discrimination because of the exception that protects employers that choose not to recruit candidates who are over, or within six months of, the employer’s normal retirement age, an employment tribunal has found.

A Sikh minister had been working as a chaplain for the Prison Service, which operates a normal retirement age of 65. When a new prison opened, he applied for the position of chaplain. His application was turned down.

The exception applies where the applicant is over the employer’s normal retirement age where this is 65 or above or, if the employer does not have a normal retirement age, the age of 65. It also applies where a person would, within a period of six months from the date of his or her application to the employer, reach the employer’s normal retirement age or, if the employer does not have a normal retirement age, the age of 65.

Although there is nothing in the age discrimination legislation that specifically prevents employers from asking job applicants for their date of birth, many employers are naturally reluctant to do so because it can give the wrong impression. As our frequently asked questions service points out, employers that wish to make use of the exception can ask candidates to indicate, for example by ticking a box on the application form, whether at the time of applying for the job they fall into the ‘proximity to retirement’ category.

XpertHR’s policies and documents service provides model wording for a letter rejecting an applicant because of proximity to retirement [subscription required].

Read more about the case on the Liverpool Daily Post website.

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