Belfast Telegraph

UK companies facing retirement ‘legal minefield’

By David Prosser

Leading British businesses face a legal minefield because the Government has failed to spell out properly how reforms to the official retirement age will be introduced in just four-and-a-half months' time, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned today.

The employers' group said that plans to abolish the default |retirement age — which allows companies to require their staff to retire at a set age, typically 65 — were being phased in from |April onwards despite the Government's failure to publish details of how the new rules would work.

The CBI warned that employers had not been given sufficient |time to prepare for the new regime and called for a year's delay.

The demand will provoke hostility amongst trade unions and groups representing older people, which have campaigned for years for a change in the law, which currently gives legal backing to companies that compulsorily retire staff.

However, the CBI said that while it did not necessarily oppose the abolition of the default retirement age, it was concerned that no detail had been given.

Ministers have indicated that there will be circumstances in which certain employers might still be able to insist that staff retire, but has not spelt out the specifics.

The employers' group also argued that there was no need to rush through the introduction of the new rules, because workers are already entitled to ask to work on into old age at companies' discretion and that 80% of such requests are granted.

Around 740,000 people over the age of 65 are still employed in Britain, around 8% of the workforce.

“The ageing population and the shortfall in pension savings make it inevitable that people will want to continue working for longer,” said John Cridland, deputy director-general of the CBI.

“In the majority of cases this will not be an issue, but in a minority it will be a serious problem for all concerned.

“In certain jobs, especially physically demanding ones, working beyond 65 is not going to be possible for everyone.”

Belfast Telegraph