Default retirement age ban attempt through Equality Bill fails

A bid to scrap enforced retirement at the age of 65 through an amendment to the Equality Bill has collapsed after the amendment was withdrawn.

The amendment to abolish the default retirement age (DRA) was tabled by Anthony Lester, a Liberal Democrat peer, during the House of Lords committee stage of the Equality Bill, but was withdrawn following a debate among the Lords.

The leader of the House of Lords, Janet Royall, told the House it was necessary to wait for the outcome of the government review of the DRA before a decision was made. Employers and other interested parties have until next Monday (1 February) to submit their responses to the government’s review.

The news came as HR professionals told Personnel Today they would support the abolition of the regulation through the Equality Bill on the condition that employers were given time to prepare for the change.

But Royall said: “We believe it is right that policy decisions are based on evidence that is as robust, wide-ranging and detailed as possible.

“We need to include the government’s own survey of employers, policies, practices and preferences, which is about to begin its analytical phase and involves a sample of more than 2,000 employers.

“We have always said that we would review the need for the default retirement age and that our aim is to encourage a culture change away from set retirement ages. If, having considered the evidence, our review shows that the default retirement age is no longer necessary, we will abolish it.

“We will need to reach a conclusion based on the evidence and consult on any proposals that flow from this.”

Royall added if the review did find a case for scrapping the DRA, this change could be implemented in 2011.

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