I recently applied for a job at a local pub which offered National Minimum Wage. I did a short interview and at the end the manager asked me for some documents and also how old I was. After telling her I was 25 she told me she would be in touch, but it would be unlikely I’d get the job because they wouldn’t be able to afford to pay me the required wage. She said she would prefer to hire someone younger. Is this legal?

Nobody should be asking you how old you are in a job interview. Being 25, you’re entitled to the National Living Wage. On the Citizens Advice website there are full details of the wages people are entitled to by law. But these rules shouldn’t mean employers avoid hiring people because of how old they are. That’s known as ‘direct age discrimination’ in the Equality Act 2010. You’re also protected by the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, which says employers can’t not hire you (and they can’t fire you) because your age means you’re entitled to a higher rate.

We have a lot of information on our website about what to do if you’re being treated unfairly when applying for a job. If you’ve been discriminated against, there are steps you can take to either get compensation or convince the person to give you a job.

Make a note of what happened as soon as you can – noting down exactly what you were asked and any other remarks the interviewer made. This will be useful as evidence later.

Next, you should write a letter of complaint to the employer. Keep a copy of this letter for your own records. There’s advice on the Citizens Advice website on what this letter should include and you can also speak to an adviser at Citizens Advice Cheshire West by calling our Adviceline 0808 2787 806 or using our email enquiry service.to get help writing it.

If the letter doesn’t get an outcome you’re happy with, you could take the employer to an employment tribunal. You’ll need as much evidence of discrimination as possible. Evidence should include the job advert, the job description, your notes about what was said at the interview and any contact you’ve had with the employer since – like your complaint letter. 

Remember that you only have three months minus one day from the date that the ‘discriminatory act’ (in this case, the comments in your interview) happened to start tribunal proceedings. You do this by contacting the government organisation Acas and telling them that you intend to bring a claim.

Nobody should have to worry about being discriminated against when job hunting. For more advice on your rights when searching for work, visit citizensadvice.org.uk/work or call Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.

You can also get free confidential advice at Citizens Advice Cheshire West.  We are providing advice by phone and email Monday to Friday 9am – 4pm.  You can contact us on our Adviceline: 0808 2787 806 or use our email enquiry service.  Alternatively you can contact us through webchat accessed through the Citizens Advice website.  Our in-person help and advice is reserved for people who really need it and now that Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, we are beginning to offer appointments at a number of our Community Access PointsPlease click on this link for up to date information on our services and opening hours.

Copyright Citizens Advice.  The advice provided in this advice column was published 1 March 2022.  For the most up-to-date advice, please visit our Citizens Advice public site

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