With the change in Statutory Retirement Age and the need to avoid age discrimination, employers have been looking for guidance for some time on how to best handle the process as employees approach Retirement Age. The new Code of Practice on Retirement Age published in December 2017 provides welcome guidelines as well emphasising the importance of valuing employees of all ages and embracing a culture that does not tolerate discrimination. Compulsory Retirement Age must be an express or implied term of the employment contract and must be ‘capable of objective justification…by existence of a legitimate aim‘.
The Code promotes the practice of a planned approach to retirement at least 6 months in advance and of carefully considering requests to work longer. When an employee is approaching retirement, the Code advises employers to notify an employee of the intention to retire him/her on the contractual retirement date within 6-12 months of that date thereby allowing sufficient time for planning and arranging advice on succession. In addition, the Code sets out the procedure to be used by both sides when dealing with a request to work beyond the normal retirement age. For example, it requires an employee to make a request in writing no less than three months from the intended retirement date to be followed up with a meeting between the employer and employee.