Compulsory retirement age at 65 fully abolished

Older man The default retirement age has been phased out

The default retirement age in the UK has been fully abolished after being phased out from April this year.

New legislation stops employers from compulsorily retiring workers once they reach the age of 65.

However, research by law firm Norton Rose suggests one in 10 firms plans to offer financial incentives to encourage workers to move on at a certain age.

The charity Age UK welcomed the legislation but said age discrimination was still prevalent in the workplace.


The legislation came too late for Andrew Webster, from Richmond in Surrey.

He was issued with a compulsory notice to retire from his job as an English teacher at a performing arts school.

''I was devastated. I had found a job I loved, I felt I was in my prime. I got on well with the students and they had good results," he said.

"I wanted to go on doing it for as long as possible and I needed the money as well so it was a terrible blow when it happened.''

Andrew Webster Andrew Webster said he was pleased others would not be in his position

He has found work as a tutor but said he took home only a third of his previous earnings, even taking his pension into account.

''I know it is too late for me but I am pleased that other people will not also be forced to retire before they are ready," he said.


The Employment Equality (Repeal of Retirement Age Provisions) Regulations 2011 started phasing out the default retirement age from the start of April.

That was the point after which employers could no longer issue the minimum six-month notification for compulsory retirement, using the default retirement age procedure.

Start Quote

Discrimination in the recruitment process is against the law, but it still happens in practice quite a lot”

End Quote Christopher Brooks Age UK

If employers still want to enforce retirement, their decisions will have to be objectively justified, but workers can no longer be forced to retire on the grounds of age alone.

The Norton Rose research indicated that some firms were preparing to offer employees a "golden goodbye".

''Our survey suggests employers feel there will be limited ability to take on younger workers as a result of the default retirement age being removed and their perceived inability to ask more senior levels of staff to move on,'' said Paul Griffin, an employment lawyer at Norton Rose.

''If firms are approaching people to retire that could be seen as age discrimination in its own right.

"But our survey indicates that firms are willing to pay to encourage people to move on at a certain time in their career."


Age UK said that instead of focusing on making space in firms for younger employees, businesses should instead look at the benefits that experienced older workers could bring.

New laws from 1 October

  • Default retirement age of 65 ends
  • Minimum wage increases
  • New rules for paying agency workers

Christopher Brooks, head of policy for work and learning at Age UK, said there was still a prevailing culture of ageism.

"Many employers simply see the stereotypes of an older worker, particularly in the recruitment phase and statistics show older workers find it harder to find another job than any other age group," he said.

''Discrimination in the recruitment process is against the law, but it still happens in practice quite a lot.

"It is however quite hard to prove but we do get lots of feedback from people who have been in interviews and been told they are over qualified or just too old to do the job, which quite often amounts to age discrimination."

Life experience

Chief executive Liz Fields from business consultancy the Financial Skills Partnership said keeping older workers had benefits.

"The skills and life experience that an older person can bring to a business actually helps that business become much more competitive," she said.

However, the Federation of Small Businesses said the move was "unnecessary meddling".

"It will lead to a legal quagmire for a lot of small business owners. If you can't get rid of someone, you then have to go through the process of performance managing someone out of an organisation, which if you have a big HR department and you're experienced in these things is easy," said Andrew Cave from the federation.

"The average business in this country employs four people. The owner-manager doesn't necessarily have that expertise."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    The economy is having enough trouble creating jobs for the young, and now it has to cope with no reduction at the top of the workforce.

    This seemingly innocuous change will be a complete disaster if we have significant youth unemployment for the next 10 years as a result.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    What happened to the society that it no longer values its elders?

    Uhh, that went long ago. Look at our polticians: we sacrificed wisdom for bunches of kids playing with matches. Alas, the wisdom of elders does not sit well with consumerism nor the profit driven mentality, or we'd be vastly more concerned over our dwindling ecology ("the planet" as some like to call it).

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    Responding to Peter Lanky: People who want to work past 65 either have work they love and which has become an important part of their life or have not enough money to not work. In either case, they should be allowed to continue unless they cannot perform the work. Why make "space" for a youth who has few or no qualifications?

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    Older and experienced employees can be very valuable to a business but if they are unable or unwilling to embrace change they can become liabilities. Businesses cannot afford to make allowances for age so it is up to us to stay valuable.

    It is a Darwinian situation - it is not the strongest or most powerful who survive but those most able to adapt to a changing environment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    In one of my early HR jobs, I fought hard to remove age based pay for 16-19yo. My view was, if they were doing the job satisfactorily, why should they be paid less merely because of their age?

    It seems that, at the age of 61, I am now to be punished by those 16-19yo.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    Hmmm. Looks like page 3 might start to lose its appeal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    It is really shallow minded to simply look at age as a gauge of performance. Most people have more skills and experience with age. The quality of one's work should be the only criteria. What happened to the society that it no longer values its elders?

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Add your comment...I think it is great. I'm 64 and
    was forced to leave my job as a teacher with the English Schools Foundation in Hong Kong at the age of 60. Luckily I was immediately

    employed by the Kiangsu Chekiang International Section as a teacher. In a
    professional career of 39 years I have been absent owing to illness for one day and I love teaching. Age discrimination is wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    yes ~ the government spin is the good news here. you can now be worked to death ~ booted to a low paying job and then just disabused until you are spend out. we are not people anymore we are human capital.
    the very concept of us being labor in the equations of capital and labor has been removed. we are not employees to be nurtured we are costs to be reduced.
    and they have sold it to us as good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    I moved to Russia at the age of 60 !!! and I am still working and I will be 67 next month. In fact next year I will be working harder than I have at any time in my long life and I welcome this especially as I have a very young wife ( who up to know has been earning more than me) and we have a 5 year old daughter. 66..and life is just starting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    Now the "Boomers" are going to vilified for living on a pension whilst others are working, or vilified for hanging on to a job whilst younger people are unemployed
    Always the way. Except the boomers pretty-well paid for their pensions. Income tax was around 30% in the 60s/70s. Everyone did what was expected but as usual the politicians screwed things up, hadn't a clue...

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    I was retired at 50 before gay discrimination laws came into force. 3 degrees, 30 years experience in my field, last 12 annual reviews "outstanding", 60+ hours a week, no overtime.

    After 6 years I gave up trying to get interviews. So I work for voluntary organisations. It's given me back self-worth but I'm embarrassed when people look at my worn out shoes & washed out clothes. I can't afford new

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    I agree with Age UK - instead of wondering how to get younger workers in firms should be realising that older workers are simply better at what they do and have a far better work ethic.

    The only thing is that they know when to push back against the 13-hour-day culture - in employer speak, that's a lack of 'flexibility', to the rest of us, that's called standing up for yourself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    If the UK made more things like Germany and quit buying products from China etc, we'd stand a chance. Maybe if the pound were devalued, it would make it work? Link the pound to the Mexican peseta for example

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    My 'retirement' from my small part-time administrative job for the Methodist Church was enforced when my manager discovered I am over 65. I would have liked the choice to work a little longer and leave when I wanted. At least the older generation has that choice now. What about the country not being able to afford an ageing population and people having to work longer?

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    Even at 50 many are struggling to find long term work or an employer that will even take them on that does not only want to provide you with the national minimum wage.

    The UK is flooded with cheap labour from the EU that see our nat min wage as double if not triple what they can earn in their own country.

    That is why we have high unemployment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    Fantastic - working in the public sector we'll be on full pay for life, never have to go to work, just call in sick with Altzeimers (provided you remember) and they will never get rid of you. Forget gold plated pensions this will do me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    werent we all supposed to retire at 60 in line with the rest of europe, they seem to make the rules up as and when it pleases the polititians who happen to be in power at the time

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    hey man England - please do continue to LEAD the WHOLE WORLD in terms of creating new dignity and rights for both people and animals!


  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    With the expectation that people will work beyond 65 while around 25% of young unemployed the gov better come up with something quick. With automation taking everything over from making cars to sharedealing to harvesting corn, humans are increasingly redundant. How is the dwindling supply of work be shared out? Limiting hours per person? Finding another way to distribute the money?
    Do tell!


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