Age Equality Regulations – Government seeks evidence for review of the default retirement ageWednesday, November 4th, 2009
Under the provisions of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, employers are obliged to consider seriously requests from employees to work beyond the default retirement age of 65. An earlier retirement age may be used but only if the employer can justify it objectively. The Age Equality Regulations are the UK’s implementation of the European Equal Treatment Directive.
When the Regulations came into force in October 2006, the Government promised a review in 2011 of the need for a default retirement age. In the meantime, the setting of a default retirement age was challenged at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), on the basis that the default retirement age still allows employers to discriminate at retirement on the grounds of age.
In March 2009, the ECJ ruled that, although there was no need for the Regulations to state specifically the objective reasons for setting a default retirement age, the measure must nevertheless be justified by legitimate social policy objectives and it is for the UK’s own courts to determine whether or not the Regulations are consistent with such objectives.
In September 2009, the High Court decided not to declare the Age Equality Regulations discriminatory but only on the basis that the Government had, by that time, announced that the promised review was to be brought forward to 2010. The judge stated that he could not see how the default retirement age of 65 could remain after the review.
The Government’s review will be conducted jointly by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and will consider whether the default retirement age of 65 remains appropriate and necessary. In order for all of the issues to be considered, the Government has commissioned a research project, called the Survey of Employers’ Policies, Practices and Preferences relating to age (SEPPP), to provide an insight into employers’ age-based practices, in particular the use of the default retirement age. To that end, the Government is inviting all stakeholders and interested individuals to submit evidence, including, but not limited to, the following broad areas:
- the operation of the default retirement age in practice
- the reasons that businesses use mandatory retirement ages
- the impacts (positive and negative) on businesses, individuals, and the economy, of raising or removing the default retirement age
- the experience of businesses operating without a default retirement age
- the ways in which any costs of raising or removing the default retirement age might be mitigated and benefits realised.
Submissions should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or posted to DRA Evidence, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, V497, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET, to arrive not later than 1 February 2010.
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