Deputy Prime Minister Harriet Harman caused a stir at the ‘Challenges for Our Age’ conference yesterday, as she said she favours abolition of the default retirement age. Noting the 1.4 million people who choose to work beyond 65 and the fact that in 20 years half the adult population will be over 50, she said:
“The change in the number of well older people demands a massive public policy change.
“Older people are the last remaining group that society deems it acceptable to discriminate against.
“We have to do more to tackle the attitude that once you reach 60 you are just treading water until you become frail and dependent. This is important not just for those individuals concerned but for the economy as a whole. We have to banish the ageism in the workplace that costs an estimated £31 billion per year due to lost GDP.
“We have to understand that we now have a new cohort of well, active, healthy older people. We must recognise the emergence of the ‘wellderly’.”
Default Retirement Age
Currently, under the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, UK law permits employers to require all staff to retire at 65 – the default retirement age – regardless of their circumstances and even if they don’t want to retire, so long as they follow the correct procedure. In addition, employers may refuse to hire someone over 65, or the employer’s normal retirement age, without having to justify it. They can also refuse to consider an application from anyone who applies for a job within six months of their 65th birthday (or the employer’s normal retirement age, if this is over 65).
** Additional information & advice **
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