Accountancy RADAR


The age discrimination protection covers recruitment adverts, hiring, training opportunities, promotion, employment terms and conditions, and redundancy.
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Newly qualified criterion is discriminatory and can not be justified in financial recruitment

How are recruitment agencies able to advertise for “newly qualified” and “recently qualified” accountants when it is quite clear that they are targeting 25 to 30 year olds?

Rage against Discrimination in Accountancy Recruitment (Accountancy RADAR)

Discrimination can be direct or indirect. An example of direct discrimination would be refusing to recruit someone over the age of 38. Indirect discrimination occurs where a work policy operates in such a way that people of a certain age are disadvantaged. So these recruitment agencies are guilty of both direct and indirect discrimination; indirect discrimination because their advertisements contain a provision, criterion or practice (in this case the stipulation that the applicant must be newly qualified); direct discrimination because when someone who is not newly qualified applies for one of these roles their application will be immediately binned.

Recruitment agencies are breaking the law when they advertise in this way but at present the Employment Tribunals are not willing to punish these breaches of the regulations and the Employment Tribunals in both London and Watford have found ways of discrediting the accountant who made the complaint of discrimination so as not to punish the discriminators but to reward them by making the complainant pay their costs.  The Equality Commission is similarly unwilling to act against them.

In certain circumstances age discrimination is lawful; but despite what has happened recently in the London Employment Tribunal it is very difficult to imagine that this could include accountancy recruitment

Age discrimination may be justified by the employer, where the employer can show it is a ‘proportionate’ means of achieving a ‘legitimate’ aim. What this means is that the employer has no reasonable alternative but to discriminate on the basis of age. This may be the case where a younger age is necessary for health and safety reasons. There must be a ‘legitimate’ aim, which means a business need.

It is hard to see how this exemption could ever be justified in the case of advertisements for vacancies for qualified accountants (quote from the legal department of one of the accountancy bodies)

As accountants we are all very aware of what age group is being targeted by advertisements that ask for “newly qualified” “recently qualified” “2 to 3 years PQE” etc.