The ban on age discrimination in the provision of goods, services and facilities, introduced by the Equality Act 2010, will come into force on 1 October 2012.
The new anti-discrimination law must be observed by any individual or organisation providing goods, facilities or services, carrying out a public function or running an association, such as a private members’ club. It will be unlawful to discriminate on the basis of age unless the practice is covered by an exception from the ban, or good reason can be shown for the differential treatment (‘objective justification’). It should be noted that the age discrimination ban in services will not apply to people under 18 years of age.
Following a consultation, the Government has set out the circumstances in which it will remain lawful to use age as a reason for treating people differently. The Government was keen to ensure that the new law prohibits “only harmful treatment that results in genuinely unfair discrimination because of age” and that “it [the Government] should not outlaw the many instances of different treatment that are justifiable or beneficial.”
The forthcoming Exceptions Order will set out the specific exceptions to the ban, which are as follows:
1. Age-based concessions;
2. Age-related holidays;
3. Age verification;
4. Clubs and associations concessions;
5. Financial services;
7. Residential park homes; and
These specific exceptions will be in addition to the general exceptions already allowed by the Equality Act 2010; positive action measures; and the ability to justify age discrimination by showing, if challenged, that there is a good reason for it (‘objective justification’). Any age-based practices by the NHS and social care organisations would need to be objectively justified, if challenged.
Government guidance on the changes is here.