Researchers have identified the exact point when the nation’s workforce consider that their career prospects are negatively impacted by their age.
This is the point when many people are feeling that they are more at risk of redundancy, being passed over for promotion and are less likely to be approached about new opportunities.
The study also revealed that workers as young as 40 felt their career was stalling because of their age, yet sixty per cent were unaware that there was legislation to protect them from age discrimination in the workplace.
The research into the experiences of 2,061 over-40s was commissioned by Slater & Gordon who have noticed a steady increase in age discrimination cases in the last five years.
Nearly half of those surveyed said they were more likely to get overlooked when it came to promotions because of their age and 23 per cent said they have hit a ‘brick wall’ in their career progression.
One in ten feel ignored by their manager and one in seven have watched younger staff get promoted ahead of them since they hit 40.
More than a third think they are more likely to be made redundant because of their age.
Edward Cooper, head of employment law at Slater & Gordon, said: “This is a growing problem that we are encountering more and more. Often people are fully intending to work well into their sixties and maybe even their seventies but find that once they get past forty their options may be more limited than they previously were.”
“They may find themselves being sidelined, no longer being client facing or, in the worst case scenarios, facing redundancy when the reality is that legislation is in place that means no one can be treated differently in the workplace because of their age, without justification.”
One in ten have been asked when they will retire and the same number have been the subject of jokes about their age.
Many didn’t get invited to social events organised by younger staff and some said they weren’t included in office gossip.
Other complaints over-40s had were that they weren’t seen as ‘dynamic’ by their managers or part of the future of the business.
One in twenty felt their views were completely ignored.
A huge area of concern for older employees was the fear of being made redundant, with three quarters admitting they think they would struggle to find a new job because of their age.
Of those that thought their age might lead them to lose their job, more than half said they worried it would be because they were more expensive, with others anxious that their company valued youth over experience.
But seven out of ten over-40s said they thought they performed better in their job than their younger colleagues.
Edward Cooper said: “With people living longer than ever before, most expect to be able to work until they want to. Very few businesses enforce a retirement age but this research shows that many will still sideline and isolate staff when they get to a certain age.
“If anyone feels they are subjected to discrimination in the workplace because of their age we would advise them to talk to their employers and, if that does not resolve it, consult a lawyer to ensure their rights are being protected.
“No one should feel that they are being pushed out of their job just to make way for younger staff.”
Have you had any of these experiences in your workplace? If so we’d really like to hear your story. Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ed.