The Equality Act 2010 says that you must not be discriminated against because:

  • You are (or are not) a certain age or in a certain age group.
  • Someone thinks you are (or are not) a specific age or age group. This is known as discrimination by perception.
  • You are connected to someone of a specific age or age group. This is known as discrimination by association.

Age groups can be quite wide (for example, ‘people under 50’ or ‘under 18s’). They can also be quite specific (for example ‘people in their mid-40s’). Terms such as ‘young person’ and ‘youthful’ or ‘elderly’ and ‘pensioner’ can also indicate an age group.

Age is defined in the Equality Act 2010 (the Act) by reference to a person’s age group.
In the Act a reference to a person with the protected characteristic of age means a person of a particular age group.

Where the Act refers to people who share the protected characteristic of age, it means people who are in the same age group.

‘Age group’ can mean people of the same age or people within an age range. Age groups can be wide (e.g. people under 50; under 18’s) and they can also be narrow (e.g. people in their mid-30’s; people born in 1966).

The definition of ‘age group’ is intended to be flexible and its definition will often depend upon the circumstances in which any alleged discriminatory treatment occurs. For example a person who is 55 may belong to the following age groups:-

  • People in their 50s
  • Middle-aged people
  • People over 45
  • Under 60s
  • People of working age
  • 55 year olds
  • Baby Boomers
  • Older workers

Example: A male worker aged 25 could be viewed as sharing the protected characteristic of age with a number of different age groups. These might include 25 year olds; the under 30’s; the over 20’s and the younger workers.

Example: A female could share the protected characteristic of age with the following groups: 86 year olds; over80’s; over 65’s; pensioners; senior citizens; older people and the elderly.