What should an employer do if an older employee requests to change his or her working pattern in preparation for retirement?

The statutory right to request flexible working applies to all employees with at least 26 weeks' service. Employers have a duty to consider a statutory request from an employee to change his or her working pattern, including if the purpose is to prepare for retirement. Employers must deal with requests in a reasonable manner and can turn them down only for one of the business reasons specified in the legislation.

Employers should recognise the benefits of allowing older employees to change their working pattern in preparation for retirement. For example, this may enable the employee to continue working for a longer period, while maintaining his or her productivity or performance, or may facilitate a handover of his or her responsibilities.

Employers should avoid having a policy of favouring older workers over younger workers when it comes to agreeing to requests for flexible working patterns, as this could constitute unlawful age discrimination, unless the employer can justify it objectively.