Recruitment agencies have criticised the decision by competitor Robert Walters to ban any potentially discriminatory age-related words in its job ads.
"Dynamic", "ambitious" and "hungry" are just some of the words vetoed by Robert Walters in response to the new age discrimination laws. The blacklist also included "energetic", "quick learner", "self-starter" and "experienced".
John Maxted, managing director of recruitment firm Digby Morgan, said the move was nothing more than a publicity stunt.
"It's a lot of puff over nothing," he said. "There's much more to the age laws than just writing ads."
Martyn Wright, director of search and selection company Oakleaf Partnership, said the banned words were irrelevant to the legislation.
"Certain words, such as vibrant and self-starter, are not indicative of age," he said. "A person can be a ‘quick learner' regardless of their age."
Robert Walters has also banned educational references including "recent graduates" and "newly qualified".
Steve Edwards, marketing director at Robert Walters, defended the firm's action and insisted that certain words had clear connotations about age.
"We're just being cautious in the absence of any specific guidance or precedence," he said. "And many of our clients have changed their ads."
Gary King, director of hospitality recruiter Collins King, said the decision reflected widespread confusion over the new laws.
"There appears to be no clear direction at the moment about how the laws are going to be interpreted and no company wants to be involved in a ‘test case' scenario, so I guess the larger agencies are looking at ways of avoiding expensive litigation," he said. "I think it will be a year or so before we know where all this is heading."
Research from campaigners Age Postive has revealed that hospitality employers are less likely than other industries to employ people over the age of 55.
The sector is less likely to have equal opportunities policies in place to prevent unfair discrimination from occurring, the study said.
By Georgina Fuller and Daniel Thomas