The Government has now confirmed that it will begin to phase out the default retirement age from 6 April 2011. Although no draft regulations have yet been published, the Government's plans remain in substantially the same form as those announced last July.

The retirement exemption (now contained in the Equality Act) will cease to apply for retirements taking effect on or after 1 October 2011. The statutory retirement procedures will also be withdrawn and the last date on which an employer can give at least six months' notice under those procedures will be 30 March 2011. Retirement will also be removed from the list of potentially fair reasons for dismissal set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996. Employers who choose to retain compulsory retirement ages beyond October 2011 will need to be able to show both that they are objectively justified and that any dismissal is fair for ”some other substantial reason.”

Employers who have not already done so will need to consider carefully whether they will attempt to justify compulsory retirement going forward or whether they will remove retirement ages and review their approach to workforce planning and performance management.

ACAS has published helpful guidance for employers on working without the default retirement age, it can be accessed here.