The Government has now published the Draft Employment Equality (Repeal of Retirement Age Provisions) Regulations 2011 which seek to phase out the Default Retirement Age (DRA) of 65 from 6 April 2011. Currently, the DRA enables employers to force staff to retire at 65. The change in law means that from 6 April 2011, employers will not be able to use the DRA to retire employees compulsorily, although transitional arrangements will apply between 6 April and 1 October 2011.
The removal of the DRA is a significant change to the law but its practical effect remains to be seen. It is likely that employers will focus more heavily on appraisals and performance management so that it will be easier to justify dismissals on the ground of capability, a potentially "fair" reason for the purposes of UK unfair dismissal legislation. An important exception, however, is that employers will still be able to stop offering employees insured benefits such as life assurance beyond the age of 65 or, if greater, the state pension age.