Can you ask applicants their age?

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At our Birmingham event last week we were asked:

Q. Can you ask applicants their age?

A. This depends on the nature of the role.

If age isn’t a factor we would advise against asking for a date of birth, why would you need to? Usually dates of education and their work experience indicate their age and protects you from any allegations of age discrimination. If you have asked their age as part of an application process you are leaving yourself open to an employment tribunal (age is a protected characteristic of the Equality Act 2010) where you would have to prove they weren’t unsuccessful because of their age. Not asking for date of birth would help prevent such an occurrence.

Of course there are occasions when you have to request their date of birth as it’s a job requirement, such as driving a commercial vehicle or serving alcohol. There will also be instances where a date of birth is necessary for background checks etc. and it is therefore expected that such questions will be asked.

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