There was strong support in the House of Lords earlier this week for the Personnel Today and Employers Forum on Age campaign to scrap the default retirement age.
In a debate tabled by Baroness Greengross, peers from all parties warned that such discrimination against older workers in the UK was outdated and could have harmful effects on the economy.
The campaign aims to force the government to commit to remove the age in 2011, and not simply to review it. This would provide clarity and give employers time to prepare.
Peers agreed that many employers still needed help to overcome fears about removing the default retirement age, but the economic downturn meant that retaining experienced workers was vital as firms struggled to survive. The Lords pointed out it was also beneficial to the economy that older workers make longer contributions to pension pots.
CBI claims that employers need the cut-off to plan ahead and allow people to retire with dignity were branded “an excuse for bad management”.
Lord Carter, speaking on behalf of the government, admitted that the default retirement age of 65 had not enjoyed “universal support” when introduced in 2006. However, he refused to commit to an earlier review than 2011, and said ministers would reform the legislation “when the evidence shows that it is the right thing to do”.
Catharine Pusey, director of the Employers Forum on Age, said: “As Lord Carter pointed out, older workers will help businesses pull through and out of the economic downturn as markets improve, but conversely, they may be those who are often worst hit. It is, therefore, disappointing that the government is not more forthcoming to anything beyond a review of the default retirement age in 2011, despite cross-party support for its abolition.”
You can register your support for our campaign by signing the petition on the Number 10 website.