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 162.

    I lived in California for eleven years and have to say its very striking how ageist the UK is in comparison. I've been on interview panels (IT sector) in the US where the age range of applicants varied greatly and criteria such as age never entered into whether the applicant was suitable for the job. No one even thought about it as a factor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    153. omniblackspider wrote

    "If after being on a job for so long and I have neither savings nor investments, whose fault is it? ... Welcome to the real world!"

    All sable arachnoid, but if the pay and one's obligations were such not to permit adequate saving, or the job ended 15 years earlier than expected and savings weren't completed ...?

    This is the actual world not the ideal world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    I have known too many people pass away not long after retiring , I am happy to let someone work longer , if they want , it can be good for mind and body , let it be their choice . As for ability ? well my father is 67 , has a metal knee and ankle , takes his pills but is a harder grafter than many i see a third of his age ! and sets an example for smug kids who's first impression is he's past it

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    This with the raised pension age is a good way of getting people to work till they literally drop.....dead....saves paying out the pension. How many "manual workers" are able to do their job at retirement age as it is let alone increasing it. give the old a break and give the young a chance to save for their pensions as government keeps saying they should. They need a job to be able to save up

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

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

    After 6 years I gave up trying to get interviews. I now work voluntarily with the Samaritans. 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 157.

    I am looking forward to retiring.........there are so many better ways to spend my time than working!

    Come on people - Retire and make way for someone younger who has to build a life and enjoy what's left of yours!

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    In answer to anyone who might think I should "get a life" instead of working into my 70s, please be assured I have one. Last year, I remarried and also went back to uni part time, working towards an MA in a completely different subject, a new interest found in the course of my work. I've also had time for a few long weekends abroad and plenty to spend with good friends and much-loved family.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    Again it would appear that the BBC online~fractured fairy tales, no less~are written by big business and the House of Lords. Humans are capital, the enviroment and the planet are the "manufacturing arena" and management are the "artists" who bring it all together.
    Western society is the only society that tosses it's elderly on the heap. Accumulated wisdom~nonsense, and we bought it.
    Shame on us

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    I am a manager of 36 engineers. Some of them...often talk of their experience and expertise.

    ...the experience is invalid because "this is how we always did it" (no new practices adopted) and expertise is undermined - you can't teach them anything new. Now we cant even get rid of them at 65

    Fire yourself for failing to keep your staff trained up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    148.FrTed wrote "The biggest is 'if' one has savings & investments. For many near retirement the biggest question is "how will I cope financially?"
    Sir/Madame,if after being on a job for so long and I have neither savings nor investments, whose fault is it? The workplace, like life is a stage. You do your bit, and leave to make room for the young ones coming behind. Welcome to the real world!

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    retirement should come when you're ready. not before, and not after.

    If you can do the work well and want to work, why not continue?

    Regarding those at the other end, if minimum wages were dropped for the under 21s for the first six months of employment, younger employees could try out a number of jobs at low pay, (so the employers won't mind), so they can quickly build up a useful cv.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    119. Anthony

    "Older & 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..."

    If they are unable or unwilling to change, then fire them on the basis of their performance, not their age. Old & young have exactly the same responsibility to stay current.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    One of the advantages of being self-employed is that only I can fire myself on grounds of age. Of course, if I show signs of being "past it! clients will vote with their feet and I'll know it's time to stop. In my line of business - translation - there are many who work well into their 80s and more and even win awards! I'm 71 and I haven't noticed business slowing down, quite the opposite.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    About time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    146. omniblackspider wrote

    At 65, ... worked for about .. 30 years... If one has children ... One would have just oneself and ... partner to look after with one's savings & investments. If one is bored ... Can someone educate me?

    Several stated & implied 'ifs' here. The biggest is 'if' one has savings & investments. For many near retirement the biggest question is "how will I cope financially?"

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    Continued. I suspect that we will see many more middle aged people got rid of for cause or redundancy, rather than them being carried to retirement. This may well be a good thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    At 65, one would've worked for about 25- 30 years(conservative estimate). If one has children, they would've grown up and left home. The mortgage would've been paid off. One would have just oneself, and/or one's partner to look after with one's savings and investments. If one is bored, take up charity work. I cannot fathom why one would still want to be on a job after 65. Can someone educate me?

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    #141 "you can't teach them anything new."
    Perhaps rather than replacing them with cheaper staff who possess only 'new' skills, you could consider sacking the person who has failed for 30 years to keep their skills up to date?
    "I am a manager of 36 engineers"
    Oh wait - I think I see your reasoning.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    14. Have_Some_Sense wrote

    "Most [older] people will have health issues anyway".

    Isn't this almost a definition of ageism? We assume "old" people are sick. So are some younger people. If older people are healthy, why assume they have health issues merely because of their age? Just another excuse to get rid of them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    So now people work till they die and young people have a harder time than ever getting jobs. Personally my simple lifestyle-which I love-has enabled me to save enough to get out early in my middle 50s. I know others in stressful jobs who are forced to work yet for years because of financial commitments encouraged by this society.Statistically, they won't live long then after eventual retirement.


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