Ban on fixed retirement age

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From October 2011, employers will no longer be allowed to force workers over the age of 65 to retire under new proposals revealed by the government today.

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The current employment laws mean that companies must hold talks with staff about their futures at least six months before the employee's 65th birthday, but beyond that the employer is within their rights to force staff to retire without any financial compensation.

The Coalition Government have stated that there is a wealth of talent and experience to be found amongst older workers.

Employment relations minister Ed Davey said: "With more and more people wanting to extend their working lives, we should not stop them just because they have reached a particular age.

"We want to give individuals greater choice and are moving swiftly to end discrimination of this kind.

"Older workers bring with them a wealth of talent and experience as employees and entrepreneurs. They have a vital contribution to make to our economic recovery and long-term prosperity.

"We are committed to ensuring employers are given help and support in adapting to the change in regulations."

The new proposals are welcomed by activists who believe the current system is ageist.

Rachel Krys of the Employers Forum on Age said: "We have to stop these blunt discriminators."

And Michelle Mitchell, Age UK charity director, said: "We have fought a four-year campaign to achieve this historic decision so Age UK is absolutely delighted that the government is finally setting a clear date for the abolition of this arbitrary and unfair law.

"Everybody stands to win from scrapping forced retirement. People over 65 will have full employment rights for the first time. The economy will benefit from older workers' precious skills and experience and their increased buying power.

"Public finances will receive a boost from more people paying taxes for longer."

However, not everyone supports the new proposals. Some employers fear that they will face employment tribunals claims from older workers who believe they have been unfairly dismissed.

David Yeandle, the manufacturer's organisation EEF's head of employment policy, said: "Many manufacturers will be seriously concerned about this change in policy which will make workforce planning more difficult.

"The proposed timetable gives employers virtually little or no time to alter their policies and practices before such an important change in employment legislation is introduced.

"There is also a real danger that it could open a Pandora's box, with the onus being placed on employers to prove whether older employees are capable of continuing in their current role.

"Inevitably, this could lead to employment tribunal cases from some older employees who have been dismissed rather than allowed to retire."

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