Older Workers: Knowing Your Rights in the Workplace

Written by Calvin
Last updated July 14, 2022

A third of all workers in the U.K. are over 50 years old. However, there is also an unemployment crisis within this age group across the country. As a post-pandemic effect, we have seen people in the 50+ age category suffer significantly in terms of furlough, redundancy, and general job loss. 

People such as the Centre for Ageing Better want to help reverse this negative trend. They want to help and support older people in employment. To support them to work as long as they want and do that work happily and safely. At Aspiring to Include, we want the same thing. We want to help with the cause of allowing people of all ages to be happy at work. We want to help tackle bias and discrimination toward older people, and we want to help connect people of all ages with their ideal jobs. 

In this blog, we are going to outline what rights you need to know about as an older person either in employment or looking for employment. Knowing your rights and knowing how to stand up for them is critical. You need to know how you should be treated so that it is clear when the opposite is happening. Knowledge and information help us all be much safer in the big world of work. 

So, without any further ado, let’s get into that knowledge right now. 

The 2010 Equality Act 

The first piece of legislation that should be on your mind as an older worker is the 2010 Equality Act. This piece of U.K. law was brought in to amalgamate a variety of pre-existing laws and acts as a one-stop shop for workplace discrimination in the country. If you need to know anything about your rights at work, this is the master document.

The very first thing to know is that age counts as a “protected characteristic” under The Equality Act. That means that your age is specifically protected from all forms of discrimination. This refers to the age you actually are or the age that someone perceives you to be. It also works by association, so you cannot be discriminated against because of the age of someone related to you, usually a parent or partner. 

Under this piece of law, you cannot be treated differently or unfavourably because of your age. Some instances of possible discrimination due to age could include: 

  • Rejection of a job application due to age
  • Blocking of promotion due to age
  • Ridicule and verbal assault related to age
  • Reduced hours involuntarily given to an employee due to age
  • Forced redundancy due to age
  • Unfair dismissal based on age
  • Victimisation relating to a complaint made about ageism 
  • Permitting an older employee to undertake certain training

All of these examples are unlawful age-based discrimination under The Equality Act. The only time that age should be a factor in work-based decisions or behaviour is for health and safety or for positive discrimination recruitment tactics. If people of different ages are being protected or proactively recruited, this won’t be classified as discrimination. Anything that is unfavourable will be. 

Your Rights at Work

As well as protection from discrimination, you have rights in the U.K. workplace. Regardless of what age you are. Knowing these rights in advance is key for all older workers. Unfortunately, employers can take employees’ rights away without it being noticed in time. 

Your rights at work are:

  • The national minimum wage
  • A reasonable work week including an average of 48 hours per week full time
  • Adequate breaks of 11 hours between shifts
  • 1 full day off per week
  • 28 days paid holiday per year (for full-time workers, adjusted for other contracts)
  • A minimum of 20 minutes of rest time when working more than 6 hours
  • Protection against “whistleblowing”
  • Statutory sick pay
  • Statutory maternity/paternity leave
  • Time off for emergencies
  • The ability to request flexible working
  • Statutory redundancy pay

You can read more about your rights at the Gov.uk website.

Ill Health 

Statistically, more people over 50 leave work due to health concerns. A lot of people develop a serious and long-lasting health concern while employed, some even become disabled. It is important to know that your rights change in this scenario and you are entitled to extra support. 

Disability is another protected characteristic under The Equality Act. The law classifies you as disabled if you have a significant and long-lasting condition that impacts your ability to complete daily tasks. If this becomes the case during your employment, make sure you speak to:

Your employer will be required to make any amendments to your work that are necessary due to this disability. They will need to make “reasonable adjustments” to make sure you are safe and well at work. It’s always a good idea to be upfront about any support that you need, otherwise, you won’t be able to receive it.

Receiving the right kind of support as an older worker can help you to stay at work for longer. It can help cut down on this growing unemployment rate in over 50s. It is very worthwhile, therefore, to find the right kind of equal and accessible employer who will provide this support.

You can read more about disability support at work on our sister site, Careers with Disabilities. 

Finding the Right Employer

As well as knowing your rights at work, you need to find an employer who will uphold those rights. Unfortunately, too often we are treated poorly at work, discriminated against, and unfairly dismissed because of the employer we work for. There are employers who will engage in both active and unconscious bias towards older people and ageism can be rife in the world of work.

To protect yourself, you can find the right employer. Looking for someone who upholds human rights and equality law is often the best solution for being happy at work as an older person. Equality, diversity, and inclusion should be the top priorities of anyone you work for.

You probably want to know where to find these incredible employers now, right?

At Aspiring to Include, we have got you covered. 

You can check out two main places on our site to find the next job opportunity for you with the right employer. First, you can check out our list of company profiles. Here you will find the companies we want to work with because they are committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion. Next, you can check out our live job board. This is where you can look for the exact right job opportunity for you from these employers. 

You deserve to work and to be happy at work for as long as you want to. To start a better chapter in your work life, get involved with Aspiring to Include

Share This Story

Last Updated: Thursday July 21 2022
Go to Top