Putting it in proportion — redundancy scheme did not discriminate on age grounds

The claimant, a government administrative officer, took voluntary redundancy at the age of 26. The rules of the Civil Service redundancy scheme had an age banding structure that gave considerably more to those who were older. The claimant, who had almost eight years’ service, was entitled to £10,849.04. Had she been over 35 rather than under 30, she would have been entitled to a further £17,690.58. She brought a claim for direct age discrimination in the tribunal, which she lost.

The tribunal (whose decision was upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal) decided that there were ‘material differences’ between the age groups; younger employees had fewer financial and family obligations and could be expected to find other work more easily than older employees. This meant she could not compare herself with an older worker and so the tribunal rejected the claim.

But they went on to say that, in any event, her treatment was objectively justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim — to provide a financial cushion until alternative employment (or the receipt of a pension)…

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