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← Overview Database of Innovative Social Policies in Europe

Abolition of default retirement age

Country of implementation
United Kingdom
General short description of the innovation
In 2001, default retirement age (formerly 65) has been phased out ? formally, most people can now work for as long as they want to. This means, since October 2011, employers do not have the option of retiring employees, except where an objective justification can be demonstrated. To dismiss a worker fairly, an employer will have to demonstrate that this is on the grounds of capability or conduct. This impacts formal equality, but is also likely to lead to shift in the power-relations between employers and employees and can result in more complex issues of fairness for older employees.
Target group
Older Workers
Policy Field
  • pension
Type of Policy
  • public
Duration of the policy
since 2011
Scope of innovation
  • Scope: structural
  • Spatial coverage: national
Type of ideal-typical strategy for the innovation
  • others (flexibilisation)
Type of innovation
  • new policy, practice or measure
New outputs
  • regulations of the labour market
Intended target group
Older workers (65 and over)
Working age population
  • main source of income: paid work
Actors involved in policy-making/implementation and/or evaluation
  • central state
Intended output
  • regulation of the labour market
Did the innovation have any outcome related to job quantity?
in the sense that it potentially enables everyone to continue employed work without any age limitation
Clarification of outcomes in terms of impacting resilience and labour market inclusion
The policy reform facilitates labour market participation for older workers who want, or need, to remain in employment. However, for those who do not have the capabilities or skills that the employer requires of them, options are likely to be limited (Vickerstaff, 2010). Beck (2013) suggests that ?These situations are more likely to arise in the less skilled, lower status or low ?quality? jobs and sectors. Here, employees are less likely to have earned sufficiently to have accumulated comfortable pensions, are more likely to have worked in conditions that have taken their physical toll and are less likely to have transferable skills. Where the needs and preferences of older employees and their employers do not tally, there is potential for conflict, because the removal of the DRA simultaneously introduces the hope or requirement of extended working for the former whilst seeming to limit the latter?s ability to control when workers leave? (Beck 2013:2). Workers with the greatest need or desire to continue working are not necessarily those whom the employer would choose to retain. / / References: / - Beck, V. and Williams, G. (2013). The management of retirement and the limits of individual choice, Draft paper, Leicester. / - Vickers, L. and Manfredi, S. (2013). Age equality and retirement: Squaring the Circle, Industrial Law Journal, 42(1): 61-74. / - Vickerstaff, S. (2010). Older workers: The ?Unavoidable Obligation? of extending our working lives, Sociology Compass, 4(10): 869?879. /
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