Abolition of the Default Retirement Age
2011 will see the phasing out of the Default Retirement Age so that employers will no longer have the right to compulsorily retire their staff purely on the grounds of their age. Currently employers can compel their staff to retire when they reach age 65 but are required to issue a notification of retirement at least 6 months ahead of the retirement date and must seriously consider any requests by the employee to stay on.
From 6th April 2011
The changes are being introduced in two phases starting 6th April 2011. From that date employers will no longer be able to issue notifications of retirement. However any retirement notifications issued prior to this date where retirement is on or after 1st October 2011, must be justified by the employer to avoid claims of age discrimination.
From 1st October 2011
All retirements will have to be justified to avoid claims of age discrimination. The statutory retirement procedure will be scrapped and employers will have to follow a procedure under the ordinary unfair dismissal rules, relying on one of the reasons laid down in the Employment Rights Act of 1996 including their capability, conduct, illegality or other allowable reason.
During the transition period from 6th April to 1st October, the current statutory procedure will not apply unless a retirement process is already underway, the notification was issued prior to 6th April 2011 and the employee reaches age 65 by 30th September 2011.
Going forward employers can retain a specific retirement age so long as it satisfies the requirements of the law and is objectively justified eg due to the particular training requirements of the job or the health and safety of the individual and their colleagues. But in any case, employers should be aware of which of their staff are due for retirement and when, so that the correct procedure is followed and any relevant policies amended.