Scots aged over 50 face prejudice in the workplace and employers are missing out on their talents, according to Age Scotland.

The charity says businesses should develop an age strategy to get the best out of the workforce, but few have done so, leaving workers facing bias as they get older.

Delia Henry, Age Scotland’s Charity Director, was speaking after the Women and Equalities Committee at Westminster described the situation across the UK as "unacceptable" in a report and criticised a lack of enforcement of laws to prevent ageism at work.

Ms Henry said: "This report is eye opening but sadly its conclusions are unsurprising. The overwhelming majority of businesses and employers in Scotland do not have an age strategy and as such will struggle to get the best out of the workforce.

"Older workers add tremendous value to the workplace but are too often faced with unfair bias and less opportunity as they get older. This must change."

Age Scotland has been working with employers to help make organisations more age inclusive, she said, adding: "With an increasingly ageing population and more older workers saying that they are planning on working into their late 60s and beyond it is vital that governments and employers get a firmer grip on this and make the most of a diverse and talented workforce of all ages.”

The report by the Women and Equalities Committee criticised Government and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) for laregely leaving it to employers to make changes.

More than one million people over 50 are unemployed, the cross-party committee warned, and the committee said the Government needed to be clearer that prejudice, casual ageism and even unconscious bias against older peope are all unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.

Conservative chairwoman Maria Miller said the scale and lack of enforcement uncovered by the committee's inquiry was "both alarming and totally unacceptable".

Entitled Older People And Employment, the report concluded the employer-led nature of the Government's approach was "unlikely to present an adequate challenge to discriminatory practices or attitudes".

The committee said it wanted to see recruitment agencies "accept greater responsibility, collecting data on where older workers are being excluded and developing a plan of action to remove discrimination from the recruitment process".

It also said businesses should be required to publish the age profile of their workforce, in the same way they have been forced to come clean about the gender pay gap, to make it easier to challenge discrimination.

The report notes: "It is unacceptable that the nation is wasting the talents of more than one million people aged over 50 who are out of work but would be willing to work if the right opportunity arose."

Not all older people want to work, but those that do should not face unfair barriers, the report says.

It added: "Too little is being done to enforce the law. Neither the Government or the EHRC, with its considerable enforcement powers, are intervening in the recruitment sector where so much of the evidence demonstrates unlawful ways of working."

The public sector should be leading the way but it struggles to retain onlder workers, the report says. "The EHRC is not investigating whether the public sector equality duty is being met. We want it to do so."

The report also urged a mandatory approach to flexible working, adding: "We recommend that flexible working be the default from the time jobs are advertised onwards.

"Many older workers often take on a range of caring responsibilities. The Government should therefore introduce a statutory entitlement to five days' paid carer's leave, and a longer period of unpaid leave, to help stop those caring for a loved one falling out of the labour market unnecessarily."

It adds: "We cannot wait any longer for the EHRC to demonstrates its strategic ambition to be a muscular regulator of the Equality Act and the organisation needs to respond to this report outlining the actions it will now be taking."

Commenting on the report, Mrs Miller said: "Age discrimination in the workplace is a serious problem, as many older people have discovered. Yet despite it being unlawful for more than a decade, the scale and lack of enforcement uncovered by our inquiry is both alarming and totally unacceptable.

"The Government and the EHRC have failed to get to grips with this."