Acas guidance change causes confusion over DRA notice period

Changes to the Acas guidance on the removal of the default retirement age (DRA) have caused confusion over the notice period that employers will have to provide under the transitional arrangements.

Acas currently states in its guidance that the last date on which an employee can be given notice of compulsory retirement under the DRA is 5 April 2011, with a minimum notice period of six months and a maximum of 12 months.

According to a spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), this means that if someone reaches retirement age between April and October 2011, it may be possible for a worker to be compulsorily retired after this date if they would otherwise have been made to retire on or before 30 September 2011. A later retirement date will also have to be agreed between the employer and the worker for this to be possible.

BIS added that the regulations were to be laid before Parliament yesterday.

However, prior to 14 February the guidance said: “The last day employees can be compulsorily retired using the DRA is 30 September 2011.

“From 1 October 2011 no employee can be compulsorily retired by an employer because they have reached the age of 65 unless that retirement can be objectively justified,” it continued.

There is some concern that the change to the guidance will cause confusion for businesses, less than two months before the transitional arrangements come into force.

Clio Springer, senior employment law editor at XpertHR, commented: “Clearly employers need to know whether or not they can retire an employee, who is due to reach the default retirement age before 1 October 2011, after that cut-off date, without being at risk of a successful unfair dismissal and/or age discrimination claim.

“The Acas website appears to suggest that employers will be able to retire an employee who reaches 65 during the transitional period to 30 September 2011, as long as the date of retirement falls before 5 April 2012. Hopefully the amending Regulations will make the position clear.”

Read further detail about employers’ obligations under the DRA, including setting an employer justified retirement age, on XpertHR.

For more guidance on the implications for employers, see 10 things employers need to know about the DRA.

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