Use of the default retirement age (DRA) has “spiralled out of control” as employers rely on the legislation to force more than 100,000 staff to leave the workplace during the recession, a survey by a charity has revealed.
Age UK said the forced retirements were part of a bid by employers to cut back on their staffing levels and avoid making costly redundancies.
Michelle Mitchell, director of Age UK, told the Guardian: “Our survey clearly shows the use of forced retirement has spiralled out of control, offering some employers a low-cost shortcut to shed jobs during the recession.
“The DRA has stamped an expiry date on hundreds of thousands of older workers. It’s the most disturbing example of age discrimination which still tarnishes later life for so many people.”
The figure was four times higher than the level the charity expected to see when the DRA of 65 was first implemented in 2006.
But it is thought 530,000 workers aged 60 and over still work for companies which rely on the DRA, while 250,000 aged 60 to 64 felt it was likely or certain that they would be forced to retire.
The charity’s survey of just under 1,000 60- to 70-year-olds found 24% know a friend or colleague who has been made to retire at or after 65.
The charity challenged the main political parties to commit to scrapping the forced retirement legislation.
The government is currently reviewing evidence on the DRA and is expected to publish the findings of the review in the summer.