Removing retirement age 'would damage British business'

Nov 12 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Over a third of British businesses could be damaged if the Government decides to remove the right to set the retirement age of employees, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). A survey of 1,200 businesses across all sectors found that 36 per cent of employers thought it was crucial to their business to retain the right to set a retirement age.

The figures emerged in advance of a meeting of the Governmentís Taskforce on Age Discrimination which will discuss taking away employers' rights to set their own retirement age for staff.

The BCC argues that having a set retirement age is essential in order for businesses to effectively manage their workforce. Employers would then have the flexibility to agree with employees on working beyond that age.

"British businesses are facing an ever increasing number of diktats determining how to run their companies," said BCC Director General, David Frost.

"Bosses need to be able to plan their workforce effectively to ensure they can remain competitive in the global economy.

"Having a retirement age is the best of both worlds - employers know when someone is due to retire but can still have the flexibility to agree with individual employees who want to work beyond that age."

"We are already seeing proposals to change maternity rights, use of temporary workers, how you dismiss someone, the list goes on. When will the Government and Europe realise that employers need to be trusted to run their businesses and look after their staff, rather than this constant interfering?" Frost said.

The BCC has called for a mandatory retirement age of 65 but individual employers should be able to define the end point of the employer-employee relationship.

It also suggests that the normal retirement age could be set at the same level as the State Pension Age, which over time could rise in line with a rise in the State Pension Age. This would ensure that older workers do not run the risk of missing out on state benefits.