The Government's confirmation that the default retirement age will be phased out from 6 April 2011 will not have been a surprise, but it still adds considerably to the challenges local authorities are facing in the run up to the new financial year.

The retirement exemption 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 The statutory retirement procedures will also be withdrawn and the last date on which an employer can give at least six months' notice under those procedures will be 30 March. Retirement will also be removed from the list of potentially fair reasons for dismissal set out in the Employment Rights Act. Employers who choose to retain compulsory retirement ages beyond October 2011 will need to be able to show that they are objectively justified, something that most of them will be unable to demonstrate except in a narrow range of jobs.

ACAS' guidance for employers on working without the default retirement age will not have been drafted with the public sector in mind, but it is still a useful guide. A number of local authorities are already operating without a compulsory retirement age, and are likely to be a useful source of best practice.