Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Longleat retirement policy slammed

Older workers at Longleat have been forced to retire just a year before a new retirement law being introduced
Older workers at Longleat have been forced to retire just a year before a new retirement law being introduced

Employees over the age of 65 at a tourist attraction have been forced to retire just a year before a new law protecting the rights of older workers is introduced.

Longleat in Wiltshire, which includes a safari park and stately home, admitted workers had left the firm but denied it was anything to do with the law change.

A Longleat spokesman said in the last fortnight employees over the pensionable age had their contracts ended, but this was down to a "modernisation programme".

Currently an employer can compulsorily retire employees at 65 but from October next year employers will no longer be able to enforce compulsory retirement and pensioners can go on working as long as they feel able to do so.

Campaigners for the elderly criticised Longleat's actions, saying the "abolition of the Default Retirement Age can't come soon enough".

Longleat has seen workers from all areas of the estate told to leave.

Many of the workers had been living in houses on the Longleat Estate, near Warminster, but a spokesman has said workers would keep their accommodation.

Spokesman for Longleat, James Henderson said: "All the contracts for these people allowed for retirement at 65 and all that has been done is that this has been enacted.

"These contracts - which have lapsed in terms of the over-65 retirement - hadn't been enforced and they are now enforcing this. The workers are from all areas of the estate and include 18 workers over 70, seven over the age of 75 and two members of staff that had been working into their eighties.

"This is part of a modernisation programme which is under way at Longleat which will see new attractions and several millions of pounds invested in the estate. All staff that were in estate accommodation will keep their accommodation and the estate is ensuring they'll be provided for as well as possible."

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