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Legal Advice: Employment law

When I'm 64...

Question: I understand that the Government has introduced a law which means I can work beyond 65. I was due to retire next year so how does this affect me?

Answer: At the start of this year the Government confirmed the Default Retirement Age (DRA) would be phased out between April 6 and October 1, 2011.

Currently, an employer can force employees to retire at 65 without paying any financial compensation. The only obligation is that an employer must give consideration to a request to work beyond 65. There is no obligation to justify turning down any such request.

The change means that, from April, bosses will not be able to issue any notifications for compulsory retirement using DRA procedures. Only those people who were told before April 6 and who are due to retire before October 1 can be compulsorily retired.

Employers will, however, still be able to operate a compulsory retirement age 'provided that they can objectively justify it'.

Although the Department for Business has provided some examples of where this might be the case, there will no doubt be significant confusion. Many business groups have claimed the proposed changes in law do not deal effectively with how firms can actually retire staff if they are no longer capable of doing their jobs properly.

There are also claims that businesses have not been given enough time to put in place the new procedures. Counter claims however point to the fact that only two thirds of firms currently operate a fixed retirement age. It will be interesting to see how the new legislation beds in and how businesses as well as individuals deal with the issues.

There are some legal pitfalls to be aware of and I'd certainly recommend that legal advice is taken.

Ed Cotton is an employment partner at the Manchester office of national law firm, Irwin Mitchell

The information contained here is a synopsis. Before considering acting on it, please take professional advice.
11 February 2011

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