Companies that rely solely on online applications to recruit staff could be excluding certain age groups and leaving themselves open to prosecutions under age discrimination rules, legal experts warn.

Law firm Wedlake Bell says many companies now use standardised web-based forms when recruiting to cut costs and reduce paperwork. This also safeguards against discrimination claims from applicants who include their age on a CV.

But Wedlake Bell said that with fewer people aged 50 or over having access to the internet companies could be accused of precluding them from applying for jobs if they only take online applications.

David Israel, Partner in the employment division at Wedlake Bell, said: "Official figures show that household adoption of information and communication technology has been much slower among the older population. Companies using online application forms need to make allowances for this portion of the population if they want to stay on the right side of the law. They should always offer to post forms to people unable to download them."

Published in Payroll & Human Resources, December 2007