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Retirement Age

Volume 451: debated on Monday 30 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 12 October 2006, Official Report, column 867W, on retirement age, what the evidential basis was for the decision to impose a national default retirement age of 65 years. (95792)

Our decision to provide for a default retirement age of 65 took into account evidence from a number of sources including responses to extensive consultations–‘Towards Equality and Diversity’ in 2002 and ‘Age Matters’ in 2003–and research conducted on behalf of the Department.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to his Department's review of the default retirement age, (1) on what basis decisions were made to allow working beyond 65; (97390)

(2) if he will increase the size of the sample used to assess the effectiveness of the default retirement age over the next five years;

(3) what evidence he examined from other countries on developing his Department's policy on a compulsory retirement age.

The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 introduce a default retirement age of 65 together with procedures whereby the employee has a right to request that he or she be allowed to continue in work beyond the employer's normal retirement age. The employer has a duty to consider this request, and if both employer and employee agree the employee can continue in work. This will move towards a culture where a retirement decision is influenced by the individual circumstances and preferences of employers and employees, rather than an assumption about the norm. These arrangements were introduced in order to deliver the Government's labour market objectives recognising the need for workforce planning and avoiding adverse impact on the provision of occupational pensions and other work-related benefits.

In March this year we published the Survey of Employers' Policies, Practices, and Preferences Relating to Age that will provide the baseline for assessing the impact of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006. Once the legislation has bedded in, we intend to carry out a follow-up survey, to inform the review of the default retirement age in 2011. We will also explore, with the Office for National Statistics and the Department for Work and Pensions, the process for collating better statistical data on employee retirement intentions and behaviour.

The default retirement age has been developed as a result of extensive consultation. We have been interested in how other countries have approached age discrimination and seeing what lessons we could draw on. However, we have developed legislation that is right for Britain and which takes into account our own particular domestic and economic circumstances.