No fear from age rules if you deny requests to stay

HR professionals have been assured that forthcoming age discrimination regulations will not mean they will be legally required to keep staff over the age of 65 who want to continue to work.

Under the regulations, which come into force on 1 October, employees will be given a right to request postponing their retirement.

There have been fears that the new rules will, in effect, prevent employers from retiring staff at 65, or the normal retirement age, as there will be a right to appeal if the employer rejects their request to work longer.

However, Jane Amphlett, partner at law firm Addleshaw Goddard, said employers could rest easy on this particular issue.

Speaking at a CBI/Addleshaw Goddard seminar on the regulations in London last week, she said: “The right to request extending retirement age is a non-right really. There is nothing in the regulations that forces employers to give a reason, even under the right to appeal.”

Susan Anderson, director of HR policy at the CBI, confirmed that the right to appeal can only be against the process of the request, not the outcome.

ÒIf you have gone through the process properly, you will be fine,Ó she said. ÒThese specific fears are why the CBI lobbied the Department of Trade and Industry so hard on this issue. Once you are retired, you are retired Ð you canÕt look back and try and find age discrimina­tion.Ó

But not all the delegates were convinced. Arnold Wagner, HR director at global engineering firm Smiths Group, said he had received different advice on the right to appeal. “The fear for HR practitioners is that we have been here before,” he said. “Our worry is that tribunal chairs will interpret the rules in a different way.”

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