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How do you deal with retirement?

Employers that compulsorily retire employees, or attempt to pressurise them to retire, are at risk of direct age discrimination and unfair dismissal claims. Therefore, employers should treat older employees with care and ensure that managers avoid making stereotypical assumptions about the abilities or performance of older employees or their future intentions to “wind-down”.

The circumstances in which an employer can operate a compulsory retirement age are rare. The employer must have a legitimate aim for operating a compulsory retirement age and be able to demonstrate that this aim cannot be met in a less discriminatory way. If the compulsory retirement age is objectively justified, the dismissal of an employee because they have reached that age will be deemed to be for “some other substantial reason”. However, the employer must also follow a fair procedure and the ordinary unfair dismissal principles will apply. Where there is no compulsory retirement age, employees should be free to choose to retire at any age. Where an employee chooses to retire, this will amount to resignation, and the normal requirement for the employee to give notice to the employer will apply.

Some employers may provide employees with access to preretirement training. The purpose of a pre-retirement course is to provide information and advice to employees on the financial and lifestyle aspects of retirement. These courses are usually run by external providers. Employers should not pressurise employees into accepting phased retirement. Employers should also avoid having a policy of granting flexible working requests for older workers over younger workers as this could constitute unlawful age discrimination unless the employer is able to justify the difference in treatment

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