Could end of default retirement age end discrimination

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Harman has spoken about age discriminationThe current default age of retirement could be set to be scrapped, it is reported – which may spell the end of age-related discrimination.

Minister for women and equality Harriet Harman said this week discrimination against older people needs to be tackled at the highest levels and public policy needs to change due to the number of able older people in the UK.

Furthermore, the idea someone is “past it” once they reach 65 needs to be altered, the minister told an Age Concern / Help The Aged conference, suggesting the default retirement age should be scrapped.

“We have to banish the ageism in the workplace that costs […] the economy up to £31 billion per year due to lost gross domestic product,” Ms Harman said.

She added older people are the last remaining group society deems “acceptable” to discriminate against, a problem which will be addressed in the Equality Bill.

Commenting on the news, Emma Soames, of Saga magazine, said the number of Britons who wish to continue working past 65 is constantly increasing.


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5 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. I have no problem with the basic premiss thata rigidly set retirement age can act against the interests of both the individual and the business. Indeed i played a role in framing the UK’s line on the age discrimination elements in the 2000 EU Directive and the broader strategy on age discrimination.

    That said I have a reservation about the current focus on scrapping the default age of retirement. The default age was probably a necessary stage in policy development and we need to move on from it.

    My worry can be summed up in terms of “everyone’s career ending in failure”. There is an issue of personal dignity and respect in this debate. In reality we all get to a point where our abilities change and start to decline – but this is not age determined. I also suspect that this will be more apparent to the business than to the individual (apart from those individuals who have a burning ambition to do someting different). Unless we are careful we land up with a system where either the employer dismisses long serving staff for inefficiency or incapacity or the individual manages down their conribution to the business in a way to meet their personal goals for retirement at a particular point in time.

    Difficult stuff.

  2. Ending a default retirement age is good for diversity and for people who really want to work on after 65, but it does leave a mystery about the age at which State pension will be paid for those who do manual or stressful jobs and do want to check out of the workforce.

  3. The answer is changing attitudes to the value that is offered by older workers and changing or scrapping the retirement age will not do that. UK plc has had a big demographic shift and in order to keep functioning we need to reduce the numbers of those who are not economically active. This means getting more women into the workforce and retaining more older workers in the workforce as well as encouraging immigration.

    The best thing for both businesses and individuals is to have more flexibility around retirement. I am currently working on a major EU funded initiative to find ways that technology can help deliver this. We have also seen that offering personal development support to older workers, often years before retirement age, enables them to approcah their later careers and retirement with a more positive attitude. This delivers the greater dignity and more personal control mentioned by Eric Galvin as well as a more motivated and productive older work force.

    Therefore a focus on enabling successful work/life patterns for those over 50 and flexible transition to different work/life patterns that suit both employer and employee would be much more helpful than jiggling with the blunt instrument that is retirement age.

  4. Annual performance reviews and assessments are the key to ongoing capabilities and, thus, retirement date. Only problem with that – financial planning. It’s tough enough now to create adequate provision for a fixed retirement date, try doing it when you have no idea when the day may arrive!

  5. at age 56 it seems the govermenT (TORY/LIBDEM) said that the changes would come in in 2020 this seems not to be the case it seems this is 2018 this is misleading and for a person who has paid national insurance for up to near 40 years and now will have to work on for another year is a joke seems they the goverment think we are thick not a bit of it

    Also, where are the jobs for young person coming from making older persons work longer and no jobs for them ?

    Big mistake mr cameron.

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