Employers would welcome return of default retirement

Just over half (54%) of respondents would welcome the return of the default retirement age (DRA), which was removed in April 2011, according to research by law firm Irwin Mitchell.

The research, which surveyed 421 UK organisations, found that, of those that said the DRA should be reintroduced, 60% would set it between age 61 and 65. A quarter (24%) thought it should be higher, at between 66 and 70.

Almost a third (29%) said that a DRA would be preferable to the current situation, because it provided a balanced workforce and clearer opportunities for the promotion of younger staff. A quarter of respondents added that it would provide certainty for both the employer and employees.

The research also found:

  • Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they had a DRA in place before the law changed.
  • Almost one in five said they still have a retirement age in place.
  • Less than 1% said they expect to deal with an age discrimination case in the next 12 months.

Tom Flanagan, partner and national head of employment at Irwin Mitchell (pictured), said: “This report revealed some interesting findings, particularly in relation to the strong support for the automatic right to retire staff once they had reached a certain age.

“It is clear that the use of a DRA before the law changed was widespread and that many welcomed the impact it had on the balance of the workforce and promotion opportunities.

“It was also interesting to note that more than 80% of those organisations that removed their DRA, did so not because it was right for their business and employees, but solely because of the law change.

“This, again, reflects that, given the choice, most employers would rather have it, but more significantly it shows organisations not willing to take what they perceive as a risk and attempt to legally justify a retirement age.”