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The Default Retirement Age

The Default Retirement Age in the UK is 65. This means that, currently, UK employers can require employees who reach the age of 65 to retire on their 65th birthday with no redundancy payment, for no reason other than their age, as long as they follow a set procedure.

The procedure, set out in the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, requires, as a bare minimum, that employees are notified in advance of the intended retirement date and of their right to request to continue working beyond that date. The notification must be sent not more than 12 or less than 6 months before the intended retirement date (usually the employee’s 65th birthday).

If the employee requests to work beyond the intended retirement date, the employer has to consider the request. If the employer accepts the request, then a new intended retirement date will be set. If not (and the employer does not, by law, have to give any reason for its decision), then the employee will have to retire on their 65th birthday.

The law relating to the Default Retirement Age has, however, been the subject of a review as a result of the current economic climate forcing many individuals into working for longer in order to meet shortfalls in their pension provisions. There have also been concerns that the 2006 Regulations were discriminatory.

The charities Age Concern and Help the Aged have recently challenged the Default Retirement Age. In March of this year, their case was referred to the European Court of Justice which took the view that the Default Retirement Age was justified. The case was then referred back to the High Court which, on 25th September, ruled that the Default Retirement Age of 65 is legal and should stand.

However, the Government has said that it will bring forward a review of the Default Retirement Age to 2010. Some commentators believe that this move signals the end of the Default Retirement Age in the UK.

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