August 18, 2006 07:19 ET


LONDON, ENGLAND--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 18, 2006) - BPIF and Amicus have agreed to recommend that employers adopt the default retirement age of 65 set by the new age discrimination regulations that will take effect from 1 October this year.

The recommendation was agreed at the first meeting of the new Joint Partnership Committee established by the two organisations under the new national partnership agreement and code of practice, which took effect at the end of last year.

Applying the default retirement age of 65 means that companies can lawfully retire employees at age 65. However, this does not preclude them acceding to requests on the part of individual employees to continue working beyond normal retirement age, which should be given careful consideration in the light of both the needs of the business and the wishes of the individual.

Employees will have the right to request to continue working beyond their retirement date, and although employers are under no obligation to accede to these, they will be required to give them full consideration.

The BPIF and Amicus have stressed the importance for companies and chapels to discuss succession/manpower planning.

BPIF Corporate Affairs Director Andrew Brown says:

"We wanted to agree clear joint guidance for our respective members on this important point. Where companies set retirement ages - or oblige employees to retire - below the default age of 65, they can find themselves in legal difficulty, unless they provide objective justification for this. This is unlikely to be easy to evidence, since any action that involves treating people differently because of their age will not be considered justifiable unless it is contributes to a legitimate aim of the business and is proportionate to what it seeks to achieve."

Amicus Assistant General Secretary Tony Burke said:

"We are looking to work with companies to ensure that the legislation is implemented as smoothly as possible within the industry. The key issue is that companies and Amicus union reps should meet to ensure that there is proper succession planning.

"Companies need to ensure that replacement staff are engaged and trained in good time. It's no use employers leaving things to the last minute and then requesting that highly skilled staff work on beyond 65. Equally it is important for employers to look at the longer term - by taking on apprentices and trainees to replace staff due to retire."
Both organisations are recommending that their members obtain a copy of the newly-published ACAS guide Age and the workplace, obtainable from ACAS offices, which the Joint Partnership Committee described as "very comprehensive, and covering most of the issues employers are likely to face in this area".

Both BPIF and Amicus officials will be well-briefed in this area and able to assist their members with any queries. The BPIF has produced its own online guidance for members which dovetails with the ACAS guide. In addition Amicus is holding briefing sessions for its full time officials across the whole of its sectors.

The scope for providing some joint training for managers and employee representatives in this area will also be explored.

The Joint Partnership Committee has agreed that BPIF and Amicus members should be made aware of the importance of joint manpower planning, involving both management and employee representatives, in respect of jobs occupied by individuals approaching normal retirement age, and has acknowledged that selection for redundancies must be based on criteria that did not fall foul of age discrimination legislation.


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