Age discrimination in employment


According to the Guidelines, unless age is a genuine job or occupational requirement, recruitment notices should not make reference to age. Job notices should cover topics that are justifiable as genuine job or occupational requirements for that particular job. Examples of such requirements include:

  • the type of experience that may be required: e.g. clerical or merchandising experience;
  • the amount of experience that may be required: e.g. five years’ experience;
  • any educational qualifications that may be required: e.g. a first degree or a diploma;
  • any specific managerial or technical skills that may be required: e.g. the ability to speak Putonghua or familiarity with certain computer applications; and
  • any special requirements of the job: e.g. need to travel abroad, work at heights or carry heavy goods.

Most of these requirements can be ascertained through clearly stated criteria or through tests.

If employers are using employment agencies and services, they should specify that the vacancies are open to suitable qualified persons of any age, unless age is a genuine job or occupational requirement.

Employers should also make recruitment decisions on the basis of consistent selection criteria. The Guidelines encourage employers to provide training to  staff handling recruitment to ensure fair treatment to applicants of different age groups. For example, when carrying out interviews and selection tests, questions should be asked specifically relating to the job or occupational requirements, or to facilitate a better understanding of the applicant’s personality and aptitude. When deciding on the right candidate, the assessment should relate to the applicants’ ability, and records should be kept that explain the reasons for appointment or rejection. These steps should help to counter any possible future allegations of discrimination.

The Government is committed to the principle of equal pay for equal work and encourages all employers to share that commitment. All employees are entitled to access to the terms and conditions of employment, and access to benefits, facilities or other services commensurate with their rank, duties, seniority, experience and any other special circumstances, irrespective of their age.