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Bargaining without a default retirement age- One year on

CROW is working with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to examine the impact of the abolition of the default retirement age on older workers' employability, as well as work and retirement bargaining issues. The Default Retirement Age (DRA) was phased out in October 2011, with employers permitted to retain compulsory retirement when objectively justified to do so. Employers have retained for jobs requiring high levels of physical capacity, such as police constable. However, such exceptions were meant to be rare exceptions, and based on specific job requirements. A Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, Seldon v Clarkson, has given employers some scope to use succession planning as a justification for setting mandatory retirement ages.The Default Retirement Age (DRA) was phased out in October 2011, with employers permitted to retain compulsory retirement when objectively justified to do so. Employers have retained for jobs requiring high levels of physical capacity, such as police constable. However, such exceptions were meant to be rare exceptions, and based on specific job requirements. A Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, Seldon v Clarkson, has given employers some scope to use succession planning as a justification for setting mandatory retirement ages.

Despite government and employer initiatives to facilitate longer working lives, there is some evidence that employers are pushing and pulling older workers out of work in order to deal with job attrition and austerity. According to the NAO, 17,800 civil servants in 2011 alone have been offered and accepted early retirement incentives. Similar incentives are being offered by local authority, NHS and other public sector employers. Further, as the number of public sector jobs reduce, managers are focussing career progression opportunities on younger employees. Further, the proportion of over 50’s who have been out of work for over a year is now at a fifteen year high, and there are few local programmes under the DWP Work Programme specifically targeted toward supporting the older unemployed back into work.

CROW is working with TUC and its constituent unions: USDAW, UNISON, Unite the Union, National Union of Teachers, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, University College Union, and Public and Commercial Services Union to explore these issues. We are talking with union representatives, employers, older workers, and those who have been displaced from work. Our report is due in the summer.

Check out our recent Human Relations article on unions and retirement here.

As part of the research, we are asking union members to take part in a work and retirement survey. The survey is confidential and all questions are voluntary. The information which we collect will help unions campaign for better working conditions for older workers. You can take part in the survey by going to:

tucsurvey.agediversity.org