The question employers are wary to ask: when are you going to retire? The Conversation

Extract from an article by Sarah Vickerstaff

There is a new taboo in the workplace: retirement. Age discrimination legislation and the abolition of the default retirement age means that companies are worried about talking to older workers about retiring, for fear of being accused of ageism. As ongoing research I’m involved in has begun to show, this is helping nobody.

Governments in many countries are encouraging us to work for longer as we live longer, largely to rescue failing pension systems by continuing to pay tax and possibly save more for our retirement. In the UK, recent policy changes have had an impact on how companies and their employees regard retirement. Age discrimination legislation made direct or indirect discrimination on the basis of age illegal in 2006 and this was followed by further legislation in 2011 which got rid of the default retirement age which had been set at 65. This made it illegal to force someone to retire at a particular age.

The change was justified on the grounds that it gave people more choice and more scope to continue working if they wanted to. But as the age at which you can get your state pension is also rising – to 66 from December 2018, with a further rise to 67 by 2028 – for the lower paid, it may be less a choice and more a necessity to carry on working.

Wary of broaching the subject

So you might expect that workplaces across the UK are full of people having conversations about their retirement. However, as part of a project, Uncertain Futures: Managing Late Career Transitions and Extended Working Life, my colleagues and I have undertaken work in five organisations in different sectors that suggests a very different picture. No-one is talking to their employees about retirement for misguided fear of acting in a discriminating way…(continues)

SOURCE: Sarah Vickerstaff, “The question employers are wary to ask: when are you going to retire?”,  The Conversation, 07 Feb 2017

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BroCAP is produced by the two librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia. 


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