Further to the article on the new retirement regime in February’s LAWmail, the Employment Equality (Repeal of Retirement Age) Regulations 2011 have been published and we now have more details about how the abolition of the default retirement age will work in practice.
The new Regulations make it unlawful to dismiss someone on the grounds of age unless there is an objective justification for doing so.
The Regulations take effect next week, on 6 April 2011, and the last day for issuing six months’ notice of retirement to an employee will be 5 April. If six months’ notice is issued on 5 April, this will mean that the employee’s date of retirement will be 4 October 2011. Until then there are transitional provisions in place which will allow dismissals which are notified before 6 April 2011 to proceed under the old law.
The Regulations also give information on who may be issued with notice at 5 April 2011 and included are those employees who have already reached the age of 65 (or the company’s own default retirement age if this is higher) and those who will reach that age before 30 September 2011.
The remaining issue is objective justification, which is required if an employer still thinks that it is necessary to have a retirement age in place. This is a high threshold and although it will not be easy to objectively justify having a retirement age, it will be possible where it can be shown that the employees’ jobs require significant levels of physical fitness or exceptional levels of mental fitness.
Finally, as was explained in the February LAWmail article, the Regulations provide that it will not be age HR to end access to group risk insured benefits for employees once they reach the age of 65 or the state pensionable age (whichever is older).
For further information on the new retirement Regulations, please see the Guidance note which can be accessed on the client area of our website at www.lawatwork.co.uk