The government review into the default retirement age of 65 has been brought forward to next year.
At the launch of the ‘Building a society for all ages’ strategy today, the government revealed the review would be brought forward as a response to the country’s changing demographics and the economic environment.
The Department for Work and Pensions had previously said the compulsory retirement age of 65 – which was introduced in 2006 through the Employment Equality Regulation – would be reviewed in 2011.
The minister for pensions and the ageing society, Angela Eagle, said: “It is time to look again at [the default retirement age]. We want to give older people flexible retirement options. The government is responding to the changed economic landscape.
“The different circumstances today – for businesses, and for individuals coming up to retirement – suggest that an earlier review is appropriate. As Britain’s demographics change, it is sensible that we have the debate on what works for business and individuals. The retirement laws need to reflect modern social and economic circumstances.”
Currently, employers can require all staff to retire at 65 regardless of their circumstances. While the majority of people do retire before 65, 1.3 million people still choose to work beyond state pension age, and many would work past 65 if their employer permitted it.
Denise Keating, chief executive of the Employers Forum on Age, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the government has finally listened to reason and taken action to tackle an archaic system that allows the enforced retirement of people simply because of their age.
“In an ageing society and as recession begins to bite, we can no longer afford a culture of early retirement. It is vital that this anomaly in the age discrimination legislation is removed, as it will help deliver the massive cultural shift that is needed to stop people being stereotyped by age.”
Personnel Today has campaigned alongside the Employers Forum on Age for the government to scrap the default retirement age by 2011.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber added: “We welcome the early review of the default retirement age. It cannot be right that an employer can sack someone simply for being too old.”
Last week, Personnel Today reported the Department for Work and Pensions committee had recommended in a report on the Equality Bill that the clause confirming the default retirement age should be scrapped.
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