Over half (57%) of businesses believe the imminent scrapping of the default retirement age (DRA) will lead to an increase in the number of tribunal claims over the next 12 months, according to a survey by law firm, Irwin Mitchell.

According to a study, which questioned bosses at 141 companies across the UK, almost half (49%) of businesses thought new DRA legislation had been introduced too quickly, with six out of ten stating the Government had not communicated the changes effectively to the business community.

Back in January 2011, The Coalition Government confirmed that it was going ahead with Labour’s plans to abolish the default retirement age.From 6 April 2011, statutory retirement procedures will not apply and employers will need to objectively justify the retirement of an employee once they reach the age of 65, or rely upon one of the other potentially fair reasons for dismissal.

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John Hayes, Employment Partner at Irwin Mitchell, commented:
“Whilst the removal of the statutory retirement procedures will relieve an administrative burden on employers, a failure to act reasonably and fairly could leave employers open to claims on the grounds of both age discrimination and unfair dismissal. Employers are right to be concerned and undoubtedly should tread carefully.”

Tom Flanagan, National Employment Head of Irwin Mitchell, added:
“The abolition of the default retirement age is just one of numerous pieces of significant employment law being introduced this year. The Government has announced a set of proposed measures designed to tackle the UK’s ‘overheated’ tribunal system. It will be interesting to see what the impact of some of these ideas will be, but for the time being it seems employers are unconvinced and still very concerned about the impact of more red tape.”