HR directors more ageist than general public on retirement issue

HR directors are much more likely to be prejudiced against older workers than the general public, according to new research.

A poll of 200 HR directors found that two-thirds believed that people should retire at 65 years old, despite the new age discrimination legislation which is introduced on 1 October placing a duty on employers to consider requests to work beyond this point.

Respondents said the biggest drawback to employing people over the normal retirement age was increased sickness, followed by an older work force being slower (16%) and more expensive (12%), according to research from health insurance company BUPA.

They also reported that older workers were less adaptable, had obsolete skills and were less keen to progress.

When the general public were asked for their views on retirement, three-quarters said that no-one should be stopped from working no matter how old they are. Over two-thirds said they would be willing to work until they were 70 if they could do a less demanding job.

Ann Greenwood, director of business markets for BUPA, said she was surprised that employers thought people should retire at 65 despite the new legislation.

“Employers should put appropriate plans in place to deal with an ageing workforce – getting it wrong could cost,” she said. “Getting the right advice, however, is vital. A good place to start would be looking at your existing employee benefits and checking they comply in areas such as age related eligibility, length of service and the structure of any benefits scheme.”

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