Will you still need me?

June 9, 2011 8:39 am Published by

Employers had been expecting a long run in to the abolition of the statutory age for retirement of 65 following an announcement of this aim by the Government last year. However, greater longevity and fitness, pressure from the European Court of Justice and, above all, the shortfall of governmental resources, have fastforwarded this step.

From 1 October this year, employees will generally have the right to work after the age of 65. There was a short transitional period when employers could finalise existing arrangements for terminating contracts of employment for over 65-year-olds, but, since this requires a run in time of at least 6 months, this effectively ended on 1  April 2011.

Under the new regime, any dismissal of an employee because they have reached the age of 65 will be direct age discrimination and an employee subjected to such dismissal will be able to claim unfair dismissal, subject to the usual qualifying criteria. It is still possible to justify a particular retirement age as a matter of policy if a legitimate aim is being met and the policy is proportionate. However, such a policy is inherently dangerous and needs to be carefully scrutinised.

Generally, from now on, over 65-year-olds should only be dismissed where he or she is failing to perform properly. If an employer does want to claim there are performance shortcomings, it must give a reasonable time to assess the employee’s performance-9 or 12 months-and give reasonable support in order to try and generate improvement.

Employers should also remember that they are expected to make ‘ reasonable adjustments’ where an older member of staff has a degree of disability and need to give due consideration to flexible/shorter hours of work. Significant changes will need to be anticipated with regard to recruitment, pension, appraisal and redundancy procedures and employment contracts and handbooks will need to be carefully reviewed.

For more detailed information please contact Andrew Fleming on 01473 230033 or emailarf@blockslegal.co.uk

The above is general comment only and individual advice should be taken

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This post was written by Andrew