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Default retirement age should be dropped

Laws that allow employers to oblige employees to retire at 65 should be scrapped.

The call has come from charities Help the Aged and Age Concern after research revealed that some firms may use the mandatory retirement age to shed staff during the recession.

According to the research, the charities claimed that as many as one in seven employers that operate a compulsory retirement age could force people out of work as part of cost cutting exercises.

The Equality Bill, which is going through Parliament, will introduce protection for older people from discrimination in the provision of goods and services but leaves the national default retirement age intact.

The two charities have brought a High Court case, due to be heard in July, arguing the right of employees to work beyond 65 provided they are capable of performing their roles.

With some 260 claims from employees who have been forced to retire at 65 pending in various employment tribunals, the High Court will be asked to decide if the aims of the mandatory retirement age are ‘legitimate’.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director for Age Concern and Help the Aged, said: “It’s wrong-headed and economically unwise for employers to force people who want to work out of a job just because of their age. Older workers make a huge contribution to the economy and have the skills and experience needed to boost recovery when we come out of recession.”