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Forced retirement is lawful - but only because of Government climb-down more

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Press release

Forced retirement is lawful - but only because of Government climb-down

Leading charity pledges to take the battle to Parliament as High Court upholds Default Retirement Age.

Ruling on the future of forced retirement ages‚ a high court judge today revealed that the Government had only avoided defeat because ministers had already caved in to pressure for a review in 2010. Mr Justice Blake said: I cannot presently see how 65 could remain as a DRA after the review.

The fate of millions of people who want or need to work beyond the age of 65 now lies directly in the hands of MPs and peers‚ says Age Concern and Help the Aged.

The High Court ruling is a blow for huge numbers of older people who need to work longer to secure a decent retirement in the teeth of a harsh recession and the drop in returns on savings and investments. Older workers who wish to remain in work can still be forced to retire‚ regardless of whether they are fit and able to remain in their jobs.

While confirming that the default retirement age is lawful the judge said that if the regulation �had been adopted for the first time in 2009‚ or there had been no indication of an imminent review‚ I would have concluded�that the selection of age 65 would not have been proportionate. I would‚ accordingly‚ have granted relief requiring it to be reconsidered�

Following the ruling‚ Age Concern and Help the Aged is challenging MPs to now demonstrate their support for older workers by acting urgently to overturn the outdated legislation. The Charity is calling on parliamentarians to use the passage of the Equality Bill to abolish the default retirement age. 


Andrew Harrop‚ Head of Public Policy at Age Concern and Help the Aged comments:


Todays ruling does not spell the end of our campaign to win justice for older workers � in fact‚ we will be stepping up our fight to get this outdated legislation off the statute book. Despite the judgement today‚ Ministers still have the opportunity this side of a crucial General Election to give real help to people in their 60s by outlawing forced retirement. They should amend the Equality Bill which is currently making its way through Parliament.

In his ruling the judge makes it clear that the only reason he has allowed the law to stand is because ministers have already caved in to our pressure for a review of the law.  He makes it clear that forced retirement at 65 is unsustainable. This judgement makes it crystal clear that this unfair legislation is past its sell by date.

The Government has heard people�s outrage about the DRA‚ but so far all that is being promised is the review sometime in 2010. Instead we need action now. Ministers must use the Equality Bill which is currently before Parliament to outlaw forced retirement before the next election.

The charity brought the case against the UK Government in Summer 2006 arguing that the DRA was in breach of European Union law. A judgement from the European Court in March this year confirmed that the UK Government would have to robustly justify why such a policy was needed.


The charity took the case to the High Court because thousands of dedicated and experienced employees are being arbitrarily sacked purely on the basis of age‚ even though they want to work and can prove their competence. This completely undermines and contradicts the Government�s aim of encouraging longer working lives. 

The judge commented on the useful role played by the charity in �marshalling a wide range of material [and] bringing the Regulations under prompt and detailed judicial scrutiny�. He said the �statements and the material they deploy present a cogent case for the proposition that either there should be no default retirement age or that the default retirement age should not be 65 but 70.

The need to work beyond 65 is particularly acute at a time when economic turmoil means many people have seen the value of their pensions and savings fall rapidly.  Research shows that 60 per cent of over 50s believe they will have to work longer than originally planned because of the state of the economy. While the default retirement age exists in law‚ the option to remain in work is closed off for many.

Support for change to the law is strong‚ with almost nine out of ten over-50s believing people should have the right to continue working past 65 if they wish‚ as long as they are capable of performing well in their job.

Andrew Lockley‚ Head of Irwin Mitchell�s Public Law team‚ which represented Age Concern and Help the Aged‚ said:


The judges criticism of the Government�s approach to the default retirement age will be seen as justifying the strenuous efforts made by Age Concern and Help the Aged in this litigation.  Had the Government not pre-empted this and announced a review while this case was ongoing‚ then the ruling would have gone against it.

The judge has effectively given the Government breathing space to go away and change the rules. But his comments that he cannot see how the DRA can stay at 65 will give renewed hope to thousands of workers approaching that age. Essentially‚ the Government has been told to think again.

Case studies of older workers who have been forced to retire are available for interviews.

John was forced to retire at 69 from his job as a postman in July 2009.  He is very upset about it because he loves working and believes he still does a great job‚ which his manager has confirmed.  He feels strongly about being entitled to continue working past 65 if you can still perform well in your job. He mentions the fact that Royal Mail appointed a chairman in March 2009‚ aged 63.  He�s thinking about lodging a case at the employment tribunal.

Margaret worked in the housing department and as a librarian for a local authority and was very happy in her job. At 65 she was told she would have to retire and despite an appeal‚ with support from her local MP‚ the council would not allow her to continue working.  Her case is now at industrial tribunal and awaits the outcome of the legal challenge.  She says she has had to cut back considerably as a result of losing the income she relied on to supplement her pension. 




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Don't feel guilty about being kind to yourself - take a holiday. You need to give yourself time to relax, and to engage in activities that you find rewarding. It is sensible, not self indulgent to look after your self in this way. Doing things you have to do all the time has a negative effect on your emotional health. As well as the fact that a holiday or trip can renew the strength required to carry on in the face of difficult circumstances.

There is a vast choice of cheap holidays in 2007 on offer using the internet and there is something for everybody..Just click here to browse further


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Uk's National Will Register - After 3 years in development the Uk's Will Register www.certainty.co.uk is now online. This means it takes just 60 seconds for somebody with a will to protect their family by ensuring it can be found when they pass on. In a recent survey, an astounding 67% of people did not know where their parent's wills were located and equally as concerning nearly a third of people's wills who have died cannot be found. The ramifications of not having a will are dramatic creating increased stress and financial losses and possible increased tax to pay out of the testator's estate.
Certainty.co.uk is headed up by key legal figures in the UK, their chairman being a past law society president. Certainty are offering the UK's general public the opportunity to either register their existing will for free if it was written prior to 1st Jan 2008 or to register a new will either via their solicitor or themselves online for a small fee.
The register launched in March 2008 and now nearly approaching 1 million will registrations have already been allocated.


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This month's funny..

Appliances of old age

While working for an organization that delivers lunches to elderly shut-ins, I used to take my four-year-old daughter on my afternoon rounds.

She was unfailingly intrigued by the various appliances of old age, particularly the canes, walkers and wheelchairs.

One day I found her staring at a pair of false teeth soaking in a glass. As I braced myself for the inevitable barrage of questions, she merely turned and whispered, "The tooth fairy will never believe this!"

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