Can an employer suggest to an employee that he or she consider reducing his or her hours in preparation for retirement?

Depending on the circumstances, there could be a risk of age discrimination if an employer suggests that an employee reduce his or her hours in preparation for retirement.

Much depends on whether or not the employee has informed the employer of his or her intention to retire. In the absence of such an indication, the employer should not assume that the employee will retire simply because he or she is approaching a certain age. If the employee does inform the employer of his or her intention to retire, the employer may wish to discuss with the employee the possibility of reducing his or her hours in preparation for retirement, for example if this might facilitate a handover of the employee's work, or help the employee to adjust to not working. The employer should not impose a reduction in hours on the employee without his or her agreement as this is likely to constitute unlawful age discrimination, unless it can objectively justify it.

If the employer's reason for wishing to reduce the employee's hours of work is unrelated to retirement, for example there has been a downturn in work or the employer has concerns about the employee's performance, it should address this using the appropriate procedure, ie the redundancy or capability procedure.