Employers should be aware that from today, they are no longer able to issue notification of compulsory retirement to employees when they reach the age 65. In a decision made some months ago, the Default Retirement Age (DRA) is to be phased out and after the 1st October 2011, it will be unlawful to force employees to retire simply because they are 65.

The last day employees can be compulsorily retired using the Default Retirement Age will be 30 September 2011. This means that the last day to provide the six months’ notice required under the law was 30 March 2011.

This move has been seen as favouring employees, who will have the freedom to work longer and choose their own retirement age. However, employers may also be able to benefit from the skills and experience of older employees.

It should be noted that employers can still fairly dismiss employees by adopting the proper process and having a fair reason. Employers should be aware that if they cannot prove to have followed a fair procedure, a claim could potentially be brought against them for age discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

Although there is no draft legislation yet, it would appear that employers may still be able to operate compulsory retirement ages, provided they can be justified under normal discrimination law principles.

For advice on the changes in employment law in relation to the default retirement age, or any other employment law issue, please don’t hesitate to contact me.