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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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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.]