The talents of more than one million unemployed people over the age of 50 are wasted because "too little" is being done to enforce age discrimination legislation, a bipartisan group of MPs warned.
Westminster "needs to be clearer" that prejudice, unconscious bias and occasional workplace action are all unlawful under the Equality Act 2010, the Committee on Women and Equality said.
The committee chairman, Maria Miller, said the scale and lack of enforcement revealed by the investigation are "both alarming and totally unacceptable".
With the title "Older People and Employment", the report concludes that the government's approach, which is supported by employers, "does not represent a discriminatory practice or attitude".
The committee said that it wants job placement agencies to "take greater responsibility, collect data on where older workers are excluded and develop an action plan to remove discrimination from the recruitment process".
It recommended reporting the age profile of the workforce following the introduction of gender pay gap reporting to combat discrimination.
Organizations supporting older people said the picture is mirrored north of the border, where Age Scotland warned that the "overwhelming majority" of companies had no age strategy and that older workers were "exposed to unfair prejudices".
The report states: "It is unacceptable that the nation is wasting the talents of more than one million people over the age of 50 who are unemployed but who would be willing to work if the opportunity arises.
"People in later life often play many different roles in society, but those who want to work should not face the current barriers of discrimination, bias and outdated employment practices."
It added that "too little is done to enforce the law, and neither the government nor the Commission on Equality and Human Rights (EHRC), with their considerable powers of enforcement, intervene in the field of recruitment, where there is so much evidence of unlawful practices.
"The public sector is struggling to retain older workers as it moves forward, but the EHRC is not exploring whether the public sector equality commitment is being met, which we want."
The report called on the government to work with the ECHR to agree on concrete enforcement actions.
Delia Henry, Charity Director of Age Scotland, said: "This report is a feast for the eyes, but unfortunately its conclusions are not surprising: the vast majority of Scottish companies and employers have no age strategy and, as such, are unlikely to be the best in the workforce Older workers provide enormous added value to the workplace, but too often face unfair bias and fewer opportunities as they get older, and that needs to change.
"Age Scotland has partnered with employers to ensure that their organizations are age-appropriate by focusing on their workplace policies, training, bias and commitment.
She added, "With the aging population and the fact that older workers say they want to work until the late 1960s and beyond, governments and employers need to get a better handle on this aspect and a diverse and talented one Employees of all ages. "
Charity Business in the community warned last year that over-50s are not getting the computer education and development they need to succeed in the digital age.
Ms. Miller said: "Age discrimination at the workplace is a serious problem, although the scale and lack of enforcement revealed by our investigation are both alarming and totally unacceptable, even though it has been unlawful for more than a decade.
"The government and the EHRC have failed to deal with it."
Dr. Brian Beach, Senior Research Fellow at the International Longevity Center, urged companies to recognize that all older people are not equal. He said: "Combating age discrimination in the labor market and promoting age-appropriate employment standards are important steps to ensure that older people have the opportunities they want to practice later in life, and we support the Committee's call for stronger and clearer action the government and the European Commission on Human Rights to tackle this problem. "