The end to retirement at 65: what it means for you
Filed under: Retirement
So should we be celebrating, or is this the end of retirement as we know it?
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BreakthroughThe idea was to stop employers discriminating against older workers. If you are keen to carry on working, then the new legislation means that your employer has to let you - and cannot use your age as an excuse to chuck you out in favour of someone younger and cheaper.
There are some clear and attractive benefits. Age campaigners are delighted. Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga said: "We have already seen a huge increase in older workers. The fact is that people are simply not 'old' or 'past it' any more in their sixties and, after all the tremendous advances in healthcare and labour practices, there is no reason why those who want to keep working should be forced out just on the grounds of their age. Such ageist attitudes and discriminatory practices have no place in a modern labour market."
Altmann is arguing that it's better for the economy too, saying: "By keeping more over 65s economically active, we will be improving the medium term job prospects for the economy, since millions of older people pulling out of the labour force with inadequate pensions would leave less money to spend on leisure, services and consumption which ultimately means fewer jobs and lower growth for younger generations too. A social revolution seems underway, and the more people embrace these opportunities, the better for all of us."
Life sentenceThe concern is, however, that this is the beginning of the end. There are those who are worried that the gradual creep of people feeling they have no choice but to work into their late 60s will turn into a flood. Altmann argues that: "This change does not mean anyone has to be forced to work longer. But it does mean that employers cannot force people to stop, if they are perfectly good at their jobs and willing and able to work."
However, once it becomes part of the working landscape, it's going to be hard to argue with. Without a default, the state pension age will become the de facto retirement age - and as that gradually creeps into our 70's and even our 80s, increasing number of people will find themselves working until they drop.
UnemployedPlus, of course, we have to be realistic: workplaces remain ageist. You only have to look at the figures to see that once someone over the age of 50 loses work, it's nigh-on impossible for them to find work again. Age UK's Charity Director General, Michelle Mitchell, said:"Just under half the unemployed men aged 50 and over have been out of work for more than a year. It's clear from these figures that older people in the UK who find themselves out of work are increasingly being frozen out of the labour market with limited hope of finding a job."
By extending their working life, we will simply see more people on lower unemployment benefit for longer, before they are entitled to a decent pension.
Campaigners, however, hope that this latest step will help in the end. Mitchell says: "There is still a long way to go before older workers are treated as equals in the workplace. We have seen a very small improvement over the last five years but, as the statistics show, not nearly enough. We hope that, by taking away the arbitrary "best before" date for employers, attitudes towards older workers will quickly evolve to look at their skills and experience, not their date of birth."
But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.