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Government abolishes default retirement age

13 January 2011

Ignoring pleas from employers, the government has confirmed that the default retirement age (DRA) will be consigned to history from October this year.

In a written response this morning to its consultation on the issue, ministers said employers would no longer be able to issue compulsory retirement notifications under the DRA procedure from 6 April 2011.

Between 6 April and 1 October this year only people who were notified before the April cut-off date can be compulsory retired.

From 1 October 2011 employers will only be able to operate a compulsory retirement age where they can objectively justify it. Examples given by the department for business this morning were police officers and air traffic controllers.

The government is also publishing new ACAS guidance today and further ‘age positive’ guidance about the benefits of older workers. It has also promised to allow employers to retain a cut-off date for risk-insured benefits.

Employment relations minister Edward Davey said it was important to remember that around two thirds of employers already operated without fixed retirement ages.

James Davies, joint head of employment at Lewis Silkin, welcomed the government’s announcement.

“It was an anachronism that employers could require people to stop working at 65, purely because of their age.

“Every four years, life expectancy increases by a year. People are living many years after the default retirement age.

“Employers should think of having a much older retirement age – 70 or 75.”

The government promised to abolish the DRA last August (see Solicitors Journal 154/30, 3 August 2010).

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