Good riddance to the default retirement age

A leading Sheffield employment lawyer has welcomed the axing of the default retirement age.

Although the move has been strongly criticised by the CBI, Diarmuid Deeney, Employment Partner at Kennedys, stresses that South Yorkshire businesses can and do benefit from the skills and experiences of older workers.

Retiring man going down a new road in life

Retiring man going down a new road in life

He said: “For too many millions of British workers the advent of retirement is fraught with worry and anxiety. Pension contributions which were paid faithfully over many years have been frittered away on the gaming tables of the international stock market and the cost of living continues to increase.

“For many people retirement at the age 65 is simply not an option, they need to work to buy their food and heat their homes.

“The logic of a default retirement age has often puzzled me. To make someone retire at age 65 or indeed at any specified age is surely arbitrary. There are many enthusiastic highly skilled and dedicated 70 year olds, just as there are many under motivated and indifferent 40 year olds in our work places.

“Surely it is churlish to dismiss workers with impunity just because they reach a certain birthday.

“Thanks to advances in medical science we can all expect to live longer and healthier lives.

“There has been plentiful research which suggests that the presence of older and more experienced workers is of great benefit to younger workers in the same workplace.

“The rigid application of a default retirement age has caused hardship to a great many people. Its abolition is to be welcomed and its passing should not be mourned.”

Employers are eagerly awaiting details of the coalition government’s widely leaked Employer’s Charter, which could see the qualifying limit for unfair dismissal increase from one year to two years.

Last year the number of submitted tribunal claims increased by a staggering 56%, with a total of 236,000 issued claims and a current estimated backlog of some 350,000 cases.

Mr Deeney added: “There is renewed pressure on the government to introduce a fee to be paid on the issue of any application to an employment tribunal.

“There is concern among employers that those who feel they have a genuine claim against their employers should be asked to put their money where their mouth is.”

lTo watch a video interview with Diarmuid Deeney, go to www.sheffieldtelegraph.co.uk/video