Retirement Age should be Scrapped
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has criticised the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) recent decision to keep the mandatory retirement age of 65, saying it is discriminatory and should be scrapped.
An Advocate–General, a senior legal adviser to the ECJ, has rejected a challenge by charity Age Concern to current UK retirement laws which allow employers to force staff to retire at 65.
Commenting on the case, CIPD diversity adviser Dianah Worman said:
“The default retirement age should be scrapped — it leads to lazy management, not just of people at the retirement age, but of those approaching it.”
“Employers who continue to engage, develop and motivate their older employees, rather than allowing them to coast towards an inevitable, mandatory retirement age, reap the benefits. People shouldn’t be forced to work until they drop, but neither should they be compelled to stop work when they still have a valuable and willing contribution to make.”
Worman added that small businesses were well placed to give older people the flexibility they often want in order to work for longer.
“Older workers have experience, talent and commitment to offer if they are treated well by their employers,” she said.
However, Confederation of British Industry director of employment, Katja Hall, said the Advocate–General’s decision reflected “a sensible and fair approach to this issue”.
“Employers must retain the right to say no and retire people with dignity at the end of their career with the company,” said Hall. “Losing the ability to retire people at 65 could lead to unintended consequences, with employers less inclined to take on older workers and forced to dismiss staff on grounds of poor performance at an earlier stage.”
Worman dismissed the CBI’s fears as a “cop–out”.
“Why would employers want to get rid of someone who knows your customer base, knows your product, and knows everything about your business, just because they are 65?”
She added that if an employee’s performance falls off it is a personnel issue that needs to be dealt with – irrespective of age.
“Some people are nervous about having conversations with people about performance, but that’s just avoidance, a cop–out,” said Worman.
However, CBI head of employment policy Neil Carberry said:
“The default retirement age of 65 is particularly important for small companies with smaller numbers of staff. They often do not have the same flexibility as large firms to offer alternative roles to older staff, and with small work forces each role is crucial.”
“These firms need to be able to plan ahead,” he added. “The right to request retirement gives firms a starting point for talks about whether staying–on is possible and other options that may be available, such as working part time.”
For more information about retirement laws visit the business advice article on the Age Discrimination Act 2006.