The default retirement age (DRA) is being phased out by the Government this year, giving people the freedom to continue working for longer and to choose when they want to retire
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WITH people living longer and healthier lives, the Government wants to give workers greater freedom in deciding when to retire. Employers are no longer able to make fit and healthy staff retire at 65 if they can still do their job.
The last day when employees can be compulsorily retired using the DRA will be September 30, but the last day employers were able to provide the six months' notice required under the DRA procedure was March 30. There will be exceptions to these new rules, however. Employers may continue to have a compulsory retirement age, but they must be able to prove it is justified if challenged at an employment tribunal.
If your employer has not notified you of your retirement
If your employer did not notify you of your retirement age before April 6, they may still be able to decide at what age you retire, but they will have to show an employment tribunal that this dismissal was not unlawful.
This article is based on advice provided on www.direct.gov.uk, where more information is available
If you have been given notice of retirement
If your employer is retiring you using the DRA, the following applies:
■ They must have given you notice of your retirement date before April 6.
■ You must be aged 65 or over (or your employer's retirement age, if that is higher) by September 30.
If you have been given this notice, you have the right to request to work past your retirement date, and your employer must consider this request.
Making a request to work past your retirement date under the DRA
Once your employer tells you that you are approaching compulsory retirement age, you can make a request to work longer. You must make this request in writing more than three months before your retirement date and state whether you want to continue to work:
■ For a set period of time;
■ Indefinitely; or
■ Until a stated date.
Discussing your request
Your employer can accept your request to keep working past your retirement date. However, your employer may also want to meet you to discuss your request.
This meeting is your opportunity to explain why you want to work longer. Your employer could suggest different working hours and a different retirement date other than the ones you have requested, or he can refuse your request. You have a right to be accompanied by a coworker or a trade union representative employed by the same employer at the meeting. That person can talk at the meeting, but they may not answer questions on your behalf, although they may talk with you to discuss any issues.
You must take all reasonable steps to attend the meeting. If it is not possible to hold the meeting within an agreed period of time, your employer may inform you of the company's decision in writing.
Your employer will inform you of their decision in writing and by an agreed date; the notification should include the date when your employer told you of the decision.
If your request is rejected
If your employer rejects your request, or suggests a new retirement date that is sooner than you asked for, you may want to appeal. The appeal meeting is the final opportunity for you to explain why you want to work longer.
Once the appeal meeting has finished, your employer will inform you as soon as possible of their decision. If your request is accepted, or a new retirement date or pattern of working hours is agreed, your employer should inform you of that decision in writing and showing the date when the decision was made.
If your appeal is rejected, your employer is obliged to inform you of this in writing, along with the date of your retirement. The employer does not need to give a reason why your appeal has been rejected. You cannot make another appeal.
■ In addition to the change in retirement age, the Department for Work and Pensions is carrying out a public consultation seeking views on the Government's proposals for simplifying the state pension system. Details of the consultation and how to respond to it can be found at www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2011/state-pension-21st-century.shtml
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