There is a stark contrast between the country’s celebration of the Queen’s 60 years long service, and that of most people who choose to work after the age of 65, say employment law experts from business support consultancy ELAS.
For the past year, employers have been unable to give notice of retirement to employees following the abolition of the default retirement age (DRA), but many employers still don’t understand the legislation and implications and are still leaving themselves open to accusations of ageism.
A recent study found that older workers’ training needs and performance management were being neglected. Less than half of workers aged over 65 currently receive a formal performance appraisal at least once a year. More than half said that they had received no training or an offer of training in the last three years*.
Employment law expert, Peter Mooney from ELAS, said: “We are finding that most businesses are still expecting their employees to retire at the age of 65 and are treating them accordingly.
“Asking an employee about when they intend to retire or assuming that a member of staff over the age of 65 has no training ambitions or performance management needs are sure fire ways to end up in an employment tribunal accused of ageism.
“Businesses need to be more aware of what the new legislation means, and take proactive measures to ensure that all their staff are treated exactly the same – whether they are 18 or 80 years old.”
A survey by ELAS found that most SMEs were unaware of the impact of the new law on working practices.
Of those businesses which currently offer death in service benefits or private health cover, some 57 per cent did not realise that the cost of providing these would probably soar for those employees aged over 65.
And 54 per cent said they would no longer honour those staff benefits if costs rose, leaving staff reaching 65 having to accept potentially worse pay and conditions in order to stay in work.
Mr Mooney added: “Most businesses we speak to are now aware that they cannot force staff to retire due to age alone, but it seems many aren’t expecting employees to stay on after the age of 65 and are treating them accordingly.
“Lazy management of older members of staff paves the way for discrimination claims if there is a dispute over capability.”