Labour to scrap default retirement age of 65, says election manifesto

Labour has pledged to scrap the default retirement age (DRA) of 65 should the party win the general election.

In its 2010 election manifesto, published today, Labour pledges “a right to request flexible working for older workers, with an end to default retirement at 65, enabling more people to decide for themselves how long they choose to keep working.”

The news may come as a surprise to some groups who were expecting the government to announce this summer the results of a separate review into whether the DRA should be ditched, or increased by a few years.

In February, employment relations minister Lord Young said the government was analysing evidence received from employers groups and other interested parties as part of its review of the DRA.

“We will look at the weight of evidence and make a decision in the summer, alongside publishing a survey of employers’ policies and practice with respect to age,” he said.

He also promised a consultation to be held on any changes proposed to the DRA, with any changes coming into force in 2011.

However, Labour’s manifesto, A Future Fair For All, today specifically outlines a pledge to end the DRA at 65, the clearest signal yet that the government will scrap the DRA or raise it should it stay in power.

Employers’ groups including the CBI have repeatedly argued that ditching the DRA will make it harder for businesses to plan future workforces.

Age campaign groups have warned that the DRA is used to retire staff automatically, as a cost-cutting measure, regardless of an individual’s skill or capability.

The election takes place on 6 May.

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