Early review of retirement age backed by HR directors

HR directors have backed the government’s decision to bring forward a review of the default retirement age, but have called for increased flexibility in the retirement process.

The government announced yesterday that the review, previously planned for 2011, would be brought forward to next year in response to the ageing workforce.

HR directors urged the government to take a more flexible approach to retirement.

Jan Marshall, HR director of Marriott Hotels, told Personnel Today: “Sixty-five-year-olds are still quite young these days, so there should be no upper limit for retirement. It should be a joint decision between employers and their employees. What happens at the moment is that at people over 65 are reviewed every six months, these reviews should continue until the individual and the employer jointly decide it is time to stop.”

Gill Lewis, director of retail HR at B&Q, which scrapped its default retirement age in 1990, said her company had already seen the benefits through the retention of good talent. The oldest employee at B&Q is a 94-year old customer advisor, she added.

But other HR professionals said flexibility should be introduced into retirement practices with a retirement age still in place.

Denise Bradley, HR manager at distributor The Health Store, said the default retirement age of 65 should be pushed back to 70, but with employees being given the flexibility to retire at any time. She said: “Flexibility is the key to it. People probably think they can work over 70 but it may be the case that at that age people just can’t.”

Bradley added that the earlier review was essential as HR professionals were currently unsure what to do with their older workers and clarity was needed.

But Akber Pandor, head of partner development at professional services firm KPMG, said the current legislation should be rewritten to make it more flexible.

He said: “The retirement age should not be scrapped, but the government should change the wording to make it more flexible and voluntary so those who want to leave can and those that want to stay have that option too.”

Personnel Today has been campaigning for the government to scrap the default retirement age of 65 by 2011.

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