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Is the inclusion of an age requirement in a job advertisement allowed?

When writing a job advertisement, every employer should think carefully about the requirements and expectations they have for the new employee. If the requirements include an age requirement, make sure that this is a legal requirement and not a personal preference of the employer. When is the inclusion of an age requirement in a job advertisement allowed?

Including an age requirement is only allowed if it’s required by law – for example, to serve alcohol, an employee must be over 18 years of age (§ 13 Employment Contracts Act). If there is no age requirement determined by law, employers cannot arbitrarily decide the age of the person best suited for the job. If an employer fails to follow this principle and selects a person on the basis of their age, this is unequal treatment and applicants who are unfairly denied the job have the right to claim damages.

Unequal treatment based on age is prohibited in employment, promotion, recruitment and the establishment of selection criteria (subsection 2 (2) of the Equal Treatment Act). However, differences in treatment on the grounds of age if provided by law do not constitute discrimination if they are objectively and reasonably justified by a legitimate aim related to employment policy, the labour market, vocational training or social security, and if the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary (subsection 9 (2) of the Equal Treatment Act). A difference of treatment does not constitute discrimination where, by reason of the nature of the particular occupational activities concerned or of the context in which they are carried out, age constitutes a genuine and determining occupational requirement, provided that the aim is legitimate and the requirement is proportionate (subsection 10 (1) of the Equal Treatment Act).

This explanation does not constitute legal aid in a specific case. Therefore, if you feel that you have been treated unequally, but you did not find a solution to your problem in this article, or if you have a question, please contact the Equality Commissioner by e-mail at avaldus@volinik.ee or telephone +372 626 9059. The anonymity of the person is guaranteed when contacting the Commissioner.