Call to scrap retirement age

By staff

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has called for the state retirement age to be scrapped as part of “radical change” helping older people keep working.

Its proposals for “fundamental changes to employment policies” include extending the right to flexible working for all, improving training and development and overhauling employment recruitment practices.

The EHRC cites a survey showing that a quarter of men and two-thirds of women intend to continue working beyond the state retirement age.

It argues that many are being prevented from doing so because of “structural barriers and outdated stereotypes” and wants the government’s equality bill, currently in the Lords, to make changes based on this.

“This is about developing a way of working that is based on the demographics of today’s populations and moving away from systems established when people died not long after reaching state pension age and women were supported by their husbands,” the EHRC’s deputy chair Margaret Prosser said.

“Keeping older Britons healthy and in the workforce also benefits the economy more broadly by decreasing welfare costs and increasing the spending power of older Britons.”

According to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research extending working lives by 18 months would inject an extra £15 billion into the economy.

At present employers tend to offer lower-grade, part-time work to over-50s. The EHRC says twice as many over-50s want promotions as do downgrades.

Baroness Prosser added: “Our research shows that to provide real opportunity to older workers, abolishing the default retirement age needs to be accompanied by a concerted drive by government, employers and agencies to meet the health, caring and work needs of the over-50s to enable them to remain in the workplace. Greater flexibility can help to deliver this.”