/ Money

Fixed retirement age axed, but will we work longer?

Elderly working man

The fixed retirement age will soon be scrapped, which at first glance looks like brilliant news. And it’s certainly a good move, but for many of us, it may not make too much of a difference.

The government has said it’ll phase out the Default Retirement Age (DRA) from April 2011. But what does this actually mean for you and me? In short, employers will no longer be able to force their staff into retirement just because they’ve reached their 65th birthday.

Of course, your boss can still impose a compulsory retirement age, but now they’ll have to justify this objectively – it could be argued that an elderly police officer can’t fulfil his/her job responsibilities, for example.

The good, the bad and the indifferent

Many have welcomed the move, but it’s been received less enthusiastically by the CBI (the voice of business) which claims it could make workforce planning ‘next to impossible’.

Axing the fixed retirement age comes hard on the heels of the announcement that the state pension age is likely to rise to 66 in just six years time. Many of us seem to be faced with a longer working life, but will we really have to ‘work till we drop’?

In my view axing the DRA is good news, but it might not be welcomed by everyone. By the time you’ve reached 65, you’re probably looking forward to retirement. And though the option to carry on might be nice, the real issue is sorting out your pension so you’ve got the luxury of choice when the anticipated/dreaded retirement day comes.

Problems with scrapping DRA

This relaxation of rigid rules mirrors a change that’s already well under way. More and more people are winding down to retirement, working fewer days and no longer stopping abruptly. This is fine on a voluntary basis, but until now it’s depended on an employer’s willingness to let it happen. In some ways it still will.

Employers who want to keep people on after 65 will still be able to do so, but those that don’t might not let you work anything other than full-time, or argue that you can no longer perform to a satisfactory standard. This could lead to very tricky situations.

Now we’ve got more choice

What’s undoubtedly true is that we’ll have more choice. You might carry on working full-time and defer your pension, or continue working on a part-time basis while taking a workplace pension. It depends on your circumstances, the nature of your job and the size of your pension.

Nobody knows how many people will keep their jobs past 65 as a result of this announcement. Decisions around retirement are already pretty complicated. Time will tell if they’ve just got any easier.

With the proposed axing of the Default Retirement Age, do you want to work beyond 65?

I hope to be out even earlier than 65 (42%, 19 Votes)

No – I've worked hard enough; I'll leave as soon as I turn 65 (31%, 14 Votes)

Yes – I love my job and would want to continue after 65 (16%, 7 Votes)

I can't afford to stop working at 65 (11%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 45

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Great if people wish to work longer through choice I am all for it and it is safe to do so but some c manual jobs will prove difficult to most of us has we grow older.
The reality is we no longer have the large manufacturing bases that employed many thousands of people and Britians manufacturing industries are still shrinking. To keep on an ageing workforce will give less job prospects to our younger generations. This highlights another sad choice many I suspect would like to retire early but cannot afford to we should all be able to retire and live with some dignity.

Lesley Evans says:
31 July 2010

I am still working, albeit part-time, and at aged 66, do not feel it is unusual at all. I feel able to continue for many years yet, and am sure that my valuable experience helps me to play a productive role.
My only concern is for younger people who cannot currently get jobs. I rationalise this by saying I’m not taking a job away from them by doing my role, as it requires specific qualifications and probably years of experience. In fact, from a personal aspect, by continuing to earn I have been able to financial help my children to continue in additional education which has eventually led to employment. Without my addtional income, this may not have been possible.

The company that employed me for 27 years, offered me early redundancy when I was 56. I then set up my own business and continued working until I was 69 years old.

I was very pleased to work so long. I finally retired so that my wife and I could spend more time together

I retired 15 years ago and never regretted it – I had a final salary pension – a large lump sum and my state pension’ It was a very high stress job – some research showed that generally our work caused death within two years of retiring. Many of my friends are now dead – a good few BEFORE they retired.

What sort of "life" is that? I believe that we should work to live – not live to work.

The new "CONDEMS" are trying the "work til you drop" idea – excellent to ensure that all that pension money stays in the Government coffers.

Since I retired – I have had a WONDERFUL LIFE!!

James Butler says:
26 October 2011

your a lucky person that has good cash flow

Methuser-la says:
31 July 2010

RE: Later Retirement
I was fortunate to be able to work until I was 72. The extra money was enjoyable, but I appreciated the sense of self-worth more! ^5 was too young to retire – for me. Now I am ready for a less stressful, energetic daily routine & much enjoy leisurely walks with the dog; all-day watercolour painting trips tp the Sussex Downs; picnics by local beauty spots with my wife; reading several books each week – none of which was really feasible, or even wanted, before I retired.
But, I wasn’t a labourer or a sewage worker – earlier retirement might have been much more attractive then.

Frank McDonald says:
2 August 2010

I worked in IT development from 1966 (yes there were some commercial computers back then) until 2005 – 10 years in permanent jobs and 30 years in freelance contracts (durations ranging from 1 year to 9 years). Between 2005 (when my last contract was outsourced to India) and 2007 I applied for over a hundred jobs (mainly freelance, but a few permanent). I had the appropriate experience for each job application, but only got 3 interviews (unsuccessful). I believe that my age was a major factor for my failure. After 2 years without work and hitting 60 in 2007 I gave up. I have scraped by on Pension credit and dwindling savings ever since. I would love to have continued working in IT development.

Chil says:
2 August 2010

People should be able to work for as long as they want but it does create some problems. I can predict there will be more unconscious incompetence (and yes this happens at any age) taking more and more careful management thus eating up valuable resources. Like driving licences – I think people should re-test to prove their competence regularly to prove capability and not just desire. It might keep a few others fresh along the way! And thus saving the long and expensive process of dismissal and stress for all concerned.

With high unemployment there is much to do in enjoying and living a healthy life in later years. If not financially challenged then there is a world of voluntary work to keep brains ticking and to develop a sense of self-worth and satisfaction.

Agnes McGroarty says:
2 August 2010

I first retired from NHS after 39 years( the last 15 in nursing management) in 1993 at age 57-when the tories cut the NHS to the bone, I was at home for a year and then decided I was bored I then went to work on a helpline for the next 9 years, that was a huge learning curve and hugely enjoyable, working with people from diverse backgrounds,professions and ages,I learned a great deal and made many friends it was sadly reorganised into an information line and I left -I worked with another professional helpline for a further year and retired for the third and final time time at the age of 68. Since retiring I have been working with a charity for older people which i greatly enjoy. So long as people are fit and have a choice of when to retire then fine, unfortunately in the future some people may have no choice because of poor pension provision.

It’s been confirmed that the Default Retirement Age will be phased out from 6 April, meaning employers won’t be able to dismiss staff just because they’ve turned 65. Good news?


It depends – We have high unemployment – especially amongst the young – allowing people to work after 65 will have an enormous effect on the young unemployed – particularly with this appalling government’s policy of throwing public service workers on the street to ‘save’ money.

James Butler says:
26 October 2011

Dear Persons

I am in my seventy eight year of my life and my wife is all so in her mid seventies and our family one dead and the others gone to fin for themselves.
The fuel allowance is reduced and I have a problem with my circulation it appears to be a disease called PAD some think it’s shin splint but it may be a combination of the two, The way it affects me is when the temperature drops a bit my leg and foot freezes and when I am walking
I have to use a hot water bottle on my feet in the house and drag it around as I move in the house when I’m standing or sitting I can manage great with the hot water bottle over my feet
I am to go in for some check up, but the hospital has not contacted me in say 6 or 9 months and Dr Canny phoned them about it last time I was up,and sure they must be busy and short of funds
The Mass media was asking people like me to respond to the web site but I don’t know if I got the best one,if you can assist please reply. I Air Tricity supply my electrical power and the DSWFare pass their reduced payment on to my accunt at theUlster Bank GalwayCity

[Hello James, we have edited your contact details out for security reasons. We’ll try and get someone at Which? to help you as soon as possible. Thanks, mods.]