Can an employer ask me my age as part of the job application process?
No, an employer should not ask you to provide your age as part of the job application or interview processes. The Act provides protection against age discrimination once you reach the age of 16 and there is no upper limit on age discrimination.
It is good practice for an employer not to ask about a job applicant’s age or to actively seek out the applicant’s date of birth. It is also good practice for an employer not to ask a job applicant about the dates of attendance at schools or other educational institutions as this may indicate the age of the applicant. Good employment practice means the best person for the job, regardless of age.
The Act provides a number of exceptions for age discrimination, including:
• where being of a particular age or in a particular age group is a genuine occupational qualification, for example managing licensed premises
• where for reasons of authenticity being of a particular age is a genuine occupational qualification, for example an actor
• in employment performed wholly or mainly outside New Zealand and the laws, customs, or practices of the country in which the work takes place require they be carried out by someone of a particular age group
• in domestic employment in a private household
• in work involving national security, if that work requires a secret or top-secret security clearance, an employee must be 20 years or over.
Can an employer advertise for a young person so the business can project a youthful image as most of the customers are young people?
No, it is unlawful to publish a job advertisement that could reasonably be understood as indicating an intention to discriminate on the basis of age. Age discrimination is covered by the Act. An advertisement of this type would be at
risk of breaching the Act as it could be seen as indicating an intention not to employ older applicants. The prohibited grounds of discrimination are listed in Appendix 1.
What can I do if I’m fit and healthy but I’ve been told I’m too old for the job?
Unless an exception applies, an applicant declined a job offer because of age will have grounds for an age-discrimination complaint to the Human Rights Commission.
Can an employer identify in a job advertisement a distinction between junior and senior positions without this being seen as age related?
Yes, however, “senior” is best used only if it is a true description of the nature of the job and refers to the required level of expertise and competence rather than to the employee’s age. Consider using words such as “principal” or “experienced
person” instead. A safe way of indicating a job’s level is to set out the expected salary range. Similarly, “junior” should only be used if it refers to the level of expertise or competence, not to the employee’s age. Consider an alternative word such as