Default retirement age would be scrapped altogether under Tories and Lib Dems

Two of the three main political parties have now pledged to scrap the default retirement age (DRA) should they win the general election in May.

The Liberal Democrats Manifesto 2010, published today, promises to remove the DRA entirely to enable older people to work for as long as it suits them. The document follows hot on the heels of the Conservative manifesto, published yesterday, which also pledged to abolish the DRA should they come to power.

On Monday, Labour pledged only to abolish the DRA at 65 – leaving it open-ended as to whether they will remove it or raise it by a few years. The party was expected to publish the results of a separate review in the summer on any changes to the DRA, enabling interested parties to consult on the proposals.

Business groups were yesterday angered by any suggestion that the DRA would be scrapped.

Both the CBI and manufacturers’ body the EEF warned employers used the DRA to plan future workforces, and claimed the current right to request working beyond 65 was effective.

However, Rachel Krys, director of the Employers’ Forum on Age, warned the right to request “had no teeth” as it did not encourage honest conversations between employees and managers – leaving staff unable to challenge any decision as to why they might be forced to retire.

Employers simply used the DRA as a cost-cutting measure to get rid of employees, regardless of capability or skill, she claimed.

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