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Businesses urge delay in scrapping Default Retirement Age

Businesses are calling on Government to delay scrapping the default retirement age until 2012 amid concerns of a lack of clarity on rules around retiring staff.

The Confederation of British Industry says Government must “urgently clarify its position” and respond to requests from firms for guidance and draft regulations to outline what the new legislative framework will look like.

CBI director-general designate John Cridland says: “In certain jobs, especially physically demanding ones, working beyond 65 is not going to be possible for everyone. The DRA has helped staff think about when it is right to retire, and has also enabled employers to plan more confidently for the future.

“With the scrapping of the DRA in April next year, a legislative void is opening up. We need to modernise our employment law framework to ensure that it is fit for purpose.”

Alongside a one year delay in the implementation of the reforms, the business lobbying organisation is requesting protection of “retirement conversations”, a “simpler and more balanced” law on performance management and unfair dismissal, that Government “spell out” how companies can use “objective justification” to defend a retirement age, and for the state pension age to be used as a “milestone” after which employers would no longer have to offer occupational benefits.

However, a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills response suggests a delay is unlikely. A spokesman says: “We are committed to helping and supporting employers adapt to the change in regulations and will be providing them with guidance, but we should not stop people from working just because they have reached a particular age.

“Our consultation asked what kinds of support are required and we will be publishing our response shortly, but many of the 500 respondents strongly support the plan that we have set out. It is important to remember that the vast majority of employers already choose to operate without fixed retirement ages, and many of those employers with retirement ages already offer flexibility to work longer.”

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