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Age discrimination claims soar in the wake of lockdown

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 14 Jun 2021

New research shows the number of age discrimination complaints taken to employment tribunals during the last year rose 74% as workers in their 50s and 60s suffer a challenging time in the labour market.

Analysis based on Quarterly Tribunal Statistics from the Ministry of Justice found there were 3,668 age discrimination employment tribunal claims in England and Wales between January and December 2020, compared with 2,112 in the same period in 2019.

Overall figures show that the total number of complaints in employment tribunals decreased year on year (from 183,207 in 2019 to 180,430 in 2020)

The research, commissioned by Rest Less, a jobs site for older people, appears to show that the pandemic has exacerbated age discrimination, even though age is a legally protected characteristic, just like gender, ethnicity, religion and disability. 

This research comes amidst broader findings of unemployment among older people growing by a third in 2020, compared to an average increase of 24%. Plus, with more than a million workers over the age of 50 still on furlough, the story isn’t over yet and we could see many more redundancies. 

With many older people relying on employed income until claiming their state pension in their mid-sixties and the fact that job losses in older people often lead to long-term unemployment, the impact of the pandemic on the over 50s is a long way from over it seems.

“Workers in their 50s and 60s have had a challenging time in the labour market over the last year, with unemployment levels soared by 48% year on year and redundancies amongst the over 50s hit an all-time high in 2020”, commented Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less.

Lewis continued: “Additionally, with more than one million workers over the age of 50 still on furlough, and business concerns around the potential for new virus variants to delay re-opening, we fear a new wave of redundancies may be on the horizon.”

Workers who believe they have been the victim of age discrimination – or any other form of discrimination – should contact ACAS in the first instance.