New laws protecting under-65s from age discrimination are in themselves ageist, it has been claimed.
Age Concern said that the laws, which come into effect in October, should protect those over the age of 65 from forced retirement as well.
A survey by the charity found that more than four in five people think that age discrimination should be illegal, giving further weight to the pressure on the government to outlaw age discrimination against all people.
Around 77 per cent of the British population does not know that employers can force workers over the age of 65 to retire, even if the employee does not want to, the survey found.
Director general of Age Concern, Gordon Lishman said: "Our new research shows the clear unpopularity of forced retirement and the low level of public awareness of the new age discrimination law.
"The government should reinstate their original commitment: to give all people a chance to be recruited, trained and employed on their merits not on their birth date."