Leading HR directors have backed a campaign by Personnel Today and the Employers Forum on Age to force the government to commit to remove the default retirement age in 2011.
A growing number of employers have ditched the default retirement age of 65 and instead allow employees to retire when it suits them.
The campaign argues that it is inevitable that the retirement age will be scrapped, whatever the final outcome of the legal challenge to it by charity Heyday, meaning it is time for HR professionals to show leadership and get it removed sooner rather than later.
Amanda Jones, head of diversity at the Co-operative Group, said the firm had found "real value" in removing the retirement age. "It's allowed us to retain experienced people who are passionate about working for us and clearly recognise that talent and contribution isn't dependent on age," she said.
David Smith, people director at Asda, added: "We believe that people will decide themselves when they want to retire. We also recognise that some people will need to work beyond the current retirement age for financial or other reasons. Either way, we would support the removal of this irrelevance in the modern age."
Sian Thomas, joint acting director at pay and workforce body NHS Employers, added that the default retirement age was "unhelpful" and said it was supportive of employers that enabled their staff to extend their employment beyond it.
The Public Sector People Managers' Association (PPMA) has thrown its weight behind Personnel Today's campaign.
PPMA president Stephen Moir said: "The PPMA recognises the contribution that people at all ages make to the economy and at any point in their life. Setting a default retirement age in law completely contradicts the need for flexibility and inclusive approaches to employment, particularly for public services which have an increasing age profile."
You can register your support by signing our petition at http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/DitchtheDRA