Managing older employees.

Peninsula Team

July 16 2010

The Age Regulations were set up to tackle the issues of discriminatory attitudes towards age. They are best known for their protection of older employees by making sure that there was a set process for retiring employees, so that employees over 65 weren’t just thrown out of employment without warning and with no right of challenge. It was also hoped that the need to go through the process would mean that retirement was no longer a quick option so companies would think about their reasons for retiring an employee and consider if that was really appropriate. It is important when considering retiring an employee to look at any misconceptions that might skew your thinking. The most common argument raised for the need to retire an individual is health and safety. However, when considered properly there is rarely any real foundation to this. An employee is unlikely to suddenly become a health and safety risk overnight, unless you are throwing them a party and lighting a lot of candles. When looked at more closely what is really meant is that there is a belief that they are no longer capable. People age differently and you could have someone working at age 65 who is much more capable than their younger colleagues. Don’t make assumptions that people under 65 are risk free and people over 65 are walking hazards. Having a retirement age is a good motivator for a company to consider how someone is performing in the role, but if a company dogmatically follows a retirement age then it risks cutting itself off from some very competent and capable staff at a time when it can ill afford to lose them. When used properly, the process can help both the company and the employee consider whether or not they want the relationship to continue and if so, on what terms. This works best if it flows on from annual appraisals so that companies are regularly reviewing how employees are performing rather than just assuming there will be a problem when they get older. Currently, to retire an employee at the age of 65, companies need to follow the statutory retirement procedure. This requires you to give between 6 to 12 months written notice of the fact that you intend to retire them, the date on which retirement will take place and their right to request to continue working beyond that date. If an employee wants to continue working beyond retirement then they must make a formal written request to do so, stating if they wish to continue working indefinitely, for a fixed period or until a set date. This request must be made within 3 to 6 months of the intended retirement date. If an employee requests to continue working beyond retirement then you need to hold a meeting with them to discuss their request and then write to them setting out whether or not their request has been accepted and, if so, for how long their employment will continue. Top tips -  Don’t assume that someone over 65 is incapable - Regularly appraise performance for all staff - Genuinely consider if retirement is necessary - Discuss the matter with your employee - Consider your older employees as an asset rather than a problem to deal with - If you need any help regarding an employee related issue contact our Employment Law Service on 0844 892 2772

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