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11 September 2015 0 Comments
Posted in Opinion, Private Client

Ageing population asks tough questions of the UK’s employers

Posted by , Partner

Britain’s workforce has changed a great deal over the course of the past ten years and one of the most striking statistics is the growing number of people continuing to hold a job long after state retirement age.

Figures released recently by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that one in 20 over 70s still go to work either part-time or full-time.

Those in this age group have been dubbed Britain’s “silver” workforce and their number has more than doubled in the space of a decade; 183,000 in 2004, compared to 378,000 last year.

It is thought that longer life expectancy, improving health and pension considerations are some of the main reasons that many people are choosing to retire later.

The increasing number of older workers on the payroll has inevitably meant that companies have had to adapt and there are employment laws which, more than ever before, businesses can’t afford to ignore.

One of the most important changes introduced in the past few years has meant that workers who do want to continue into their late sixties and beyond have far more protection.

Up until October 2011, companies had the right to retire employees at 65 and, providing they followed due process, were safe from age discrimination or unfair dismissal claims.

However, new laws were introduced which scrapped the statutory retirement procedures and meant that businesses would have to prove there was a “legitimate aim” for retaining a compulsory retirement age.

Some companies are concerned that this has placed an undue burden on businesses, with the potential to increase the cost of a company’s payroll, as well as making it more difficult to hire or promote younger members-of-staff.

And then there is arguably the trickiest issue to resolve, that of an employee who has elected to carry on working but, through no fault of their own, may have started to struggle to meet the demands of the role.

In situations such as this, a company may understandably have concerns about falling foul of age discrimination laws.

While options are available to address the issue of employees whose performance has fallen below the required standard, it is important that all the correct policies are followed and that rules are applied consistently to staff of all ages. Failure to do so risks opening the door to a costly Employment Tribunal.

For advice on the legal issues relating to older members-of-staff, contact the Royds employment team today.

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