Employers against proposals to raise retirement age

Almost
all employers disagree with proposals to raise the age of retirement from 65 to
70, according to a new survey.

The
survey of HR professionals by Croner consultants found 85 per cent of those
polled disagree with the CBI’s recent recommendation to raise the retirement
age by 2030.

However,
this does not necessarily signify a general reluctance to employ older workers,
with 92 per cent of respondents saying they believe there are benefits to
having an increasingly mature workforce in the UK.

New
age discrimination legislation will be introduced in 2006, which will provide
extra protection to older workers by making it unlawful to dismiss an employee
because of their age.

Richard
Smith, HR expert at Croner, said employers must not assume that 65 is the
‘default’ retirement age as there may be organisations where the normal
retirement age is higher or lower.

“Even
though age discrimination legislation is not yet in force, employers cannot
simply dismiss employees when they reach ‘retirement age’, unless it is clearly
stated in an employee’s contract that this is expected,” he said.

"The
employee could still claim unfair dismissal and seek compensation – for
example, under the Disability Discrimination Act – if they are unreasonably
dismissed for being no longer thought to be capable of doing their job,” Smith
said. “From 1 October, prior to enforcing retirement, the employer will need to
call a meeting explaining their intentions and allow an appeal against a
compulsory retirement decision."

To
avoid dismissing older employees unfairly, Croner advises:

·
Don’t assume that employees expect to retire at 65. Many wish to continue to
work beyond this age

·
Look at the benefits older workers can bring in terms of skills, experience,
attendance levels and maturity

·
More mature employees may be less prone to ‘job hop’, reducing costs of
retention and replacement

·
Even if a number of redundancies are being made, age may not be a fair criteria
to adopt for selection, although consideration for selection should be given to
those who are past retirement age

·
If it is felt that the employee is no longer capable of their work due to
deteriorating health, ask them for a medical report and consider any reasonable
adjustments that could be made to their current job to allow them to continue
employment. If no adjustments can be made, alternative work or part-time work
should be also considered

·
Update all contracts of employment with the company policy on retirement, which
should include the age at which they will be expected to retire.

By Michael Millar

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