How should an employer that is no longer using a compulsory retirement age amend its policies?
If an employer decides to do away with a compulsory retirement age, any decision to retire an employee must be justified. The employer should set out in clear terms what its policy is in relation to retirement. For example the policy might state that employees can retire at a time of their choosing and should set out a procedure for the employer and employee to follow. It should encourage employees to inform the employer in good time if they have plans to retire (at least by giving their required contractual notice), to assist the employer in planning its workforce requirements.
There is an exemption under the Employment Equality (Repeal of Retirement Age Provisions) Regulations 2011 (2011/1069) in respect of group risk insured benefits such as income protection, life assurance, private medical cover and permanent health insurance. Employers are permitted to exclude employees from access to these benefits once they reach 65, without it amounting to unlawful age discrimination. Employers should check whether or not they need to amend policies relating to these benefits to reflect the removal of the compulsory retirement age.
Employers cannot automatically reject candidates for employment because of their proximity to retirement, or because they have reached a certain age, unless this can be objectively justified. Therefore, employers should remove any reference in their recruitment policies to an upper age limit for recruitment, unless they can justify such a policy.
If an employer intends to favour employees who are approaching retirement in the application of its flexible working policy, it must ensure that this can be objectively justified.
Employers should consider amending appraisal procedures and documents, if necessary, to make provision for discussion of future aims and aspirations with all employees, regardless of their age.