Why would my employer need my birthdate?

I recently started a job at a small company, and along with my tax information, they want my birthdate. I didn’t give it and they’ve asked me again. If they truly need it for some obvious official purpose, I don’t want to seem difficult so I’m afraid to ask why they need it. Can anyone tell me a reason why an employer would need my birthdate? I thought it was illegal for employers to ask your age, but what good is that if they can just ask you for your birthdate instead?

I was tempted to lie about my birthyear since I think it’s none of their business, but I don’t know what ramifications that might have.

Perhaps for health insurance reasons?
401(k)? (Since you can withdraw without penalty after a certain age)

Those are two semi-legitimate reasons.


Insurance (medical, group life, etc.) and Pension (defined benefit or defined contribution plans) related reasons.

Having the accurate age of the employee is critical and required.

A more interesting question is why are you afraid of revealing your birthdate?

IIRC, in the USA, they’re not allowed to ask age during interview and prehire, but afterwards it’s legal.

It’s illegal for them to ask your age or birthdate BEFORE you are hired. Once you have the job it’s perfectly legal. Don’t mean to seem dense but why do you have a problem with it? Has this never come up at any other job before?

And yes, for any insurance purposes - health, life, disability, whatever - they need your birthdate including year. For 401K or any other qualified retirement plan they definitely need it. For workers’ comp they need it. They might need it (or at least want to know your approximate age) for something as simple as evacuation procedures in an emergency.

Anyway, there’s nothing illegal or untoward about them asking you the question.

BTW, regarding asking for your age: It is not illegal, but in an interview it is not a good thing to do because it could lead the candidate to suspect the question is being asked for age discrimination reasons.

After you’re hired, your employer needs to know your age for legitimate reasons.

P.S. Don’t you have to provide I-9 documents anyway? The ones that prove your right to legally work in the U.S.? They’re going to find out your birthdate anyway from those.

Ramifications of lying include having to repay any and all benefits received based on the lie. And yes, an insurance co. will go back YEARS if they have to.

I don’t get benefits; I’m only temporary w/possibility of permanent maybe. Workmen’s comp. is required though, isn’t it, so that could be the reason.

Thanks for the answers

Regarding the legality of asking your age in an interview…



They still need to know your birthdate. If you are temp and go to perm at some point, depending on how the pension plan is written, the time you worked as a temp can be included in the time you need to work in order to be eligible.

They’re still going to find out based on your I-9.

One other reason (at big companies) is that when they do layoffs, they have to release the ages of all the employees, as evidence that there is no age discrimination.

As a small business owner, we use birthdate for several reasons. First the Company PPO premiums are based on age. Second, the Company Auto Insurance does not cover anyone under 25. and Thirdly, my employees get their birthday off with pay. Without the birthday the employees would not be eligible for Health Care, could not drive company vehicles and would have to work on their birthday.

And to the OP, if you are a Temp with plans for Permanent but refuse to give your Birthdate, “dollars to donuts” you will never get the Permanent position.

Just to nitpick, it is legal to ask in an interview if someone is legally able to hold the job in question, and if there is an age requirement for the job the question can be asked. It can’t/shouldn’t be asked in the form of “what is your date of birth?” but in the form of “are you 18 years of age or older?”

Well, age discrimination is very real - especially with “young” high tech companies. Why do you think there’s a law out there? I just wanted to know if there was a good reason to ask someone’s age. If there wasn’t I was going to ask why they want my birthdate. There’s enough doubt in my mind now, that I won’t ask.

By the way, none of the “benefits” you cited as reason to require someone’s age apply to me. As I said before, workmen’s comp sounds like a good enough reason.

How else are they going to know when they’re supposed to defile your cubicle with black balloons and “Lordy, Lordy, Rusalka’s 40” signs? :smiley:

Source: http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html (Emphasis mine.)

However, the ADEA applies to persons age 40 or more.

I worked in HR and we didn’t need it. The only time it came up was for Alcohol serving postions. We had one lady Christa and she refused to give her age. She brought in her Social Security and one other form of ID (I forget which one) that doesn’t need age to be verified.) We never did find out her age. She was clearly over 50 though.

She had insurance thru us and never gave us her birthday so it IS possible.

One thing I notice about my present state is I don’t look 39 and when I go on an interview people have said “My God how old are you?” Like we were talking about how much Chicago changed. And I told them how it was before even Marina City in Chicago was buildt. They go “How old are you?”

Dang, I wish I’d have known this sooner. I’ve already submitted my age. :confused:

So that they can post an obnoxious montly notice on the bulletin board noting every birthday for that month. Then you can have something in common with the schmo in accounting who you would never ever talk with, but now feel obliged to say “we have the same birthday, how charming.” Or so the ever-perky receptionist can announce over the pa…“it’s so and so’s birthday today.” Leave me the F#** alone.