Heyday retirement age decision – reaction and comment

This decision today by Justice Blake at the High Court to dismiss the Heyday case and rule that the default retirement age (DRA) of 65 is lawful, has prompted masses of comment from employers’ groups, legal experts and campaigners. Here is a selection:

Dianah Worman, diversity adviser, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development:

“The High Court has missed a trick to resolve this issue once and for all. The government itself has admitted that the days of the DRA are numbered. It seems counter-intuitive to drag this decision out even further while thousands of older people will be forced out of work in an already difficult jobs market.

“Many organisations and several government departments have already done away with compulsory retirement ages because they recognise the value of retaining older workers and the CIPD encourages all businesses to follow suit.”

Adam Marshall, director of policy, British Chambers of Commerce:

“This was the right decision. The vast majority of businesses value their older employees and the considerable experience that they can bring to a firm. We do not believe there is evidence of widespread use or abuse of the system; only one in four businesses we surveyed use the default retirement age.”

David Yeandle, head of employment policy, EEF:

“Manufacturers will welcome this ruling as the statutory retirement procedure enables the employer and employee to have a structured discussion and find a mutually acceptable solution which benefits both parties. It will allow employers to have greater certainty about their workforce planning and allow employees to plan their future employment and retirement arrangements.”

Jill Andrew, employment lawyer, Dawsons Solicitors:

“Many employers will be breathing a sigh of relief at this outcome. At the moment employers rely heavily on the DRA to remove the older workers who they feel are no longer bringing value to the business. Removing the age bracket of 65 would give firms a major headache, and would force them to radically alter how they manage their staff.”

Rachel Dineley, head of the diversity and discrimination unit, Beachcroft:

“Cases that were put on hold, pending this decision, will now be dismissed. Being able to objectively justify direct age discrimination is one of the unusual elements of age discrimination when compared with other types of discrimination. Given the judge’s comments it is clear that employers cannot afford to be complacent as the default retirement age of 65 may not be sustainable for much longer.”

John Cridland, deputy director-general, CBI:

“This judgment is a vital victory for common sense, and it supports the approach that employers already take to retirement. Businesses don’t want to lose good people, whatever their age. Eight out of 10 people who ask to work beyond 65 see that request accepted. Defeat for the government today would have created an unworkable situation that would have fuelled litigation and resentment.”

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