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Equality Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:31 am on 9th June 2009.

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Dianah Worman: We never really supported the default retirement age, which we felt was a compromise when it was introduced. There is no real reason to have an end point and a mandatory retirement age. Many organisations have abandoned mandatory retirement, and there are strong arguments at national, organisational and individual levels for having a more open-ended situation. If people can and want to work for longer, and are able deliver value to an employer, they should have the opportunity to do that. If the employer wants to carry on working with someone, why set up a system that stops them from doing that without jumping through unnecessary hoops?

This is not only a UK issue. Changing demographics are affecting countries around the world and we must change our mindset about when retirement might be. Do we need to revisit the concept of retirement? Many people are living longer, healthier lives and are still fit.  The concept of being 60 today is more like being 50 or 40—people feel a lot younger than they used to 10 or 20 years ago.

Having an end point does not make sense. The problem is that people do not like dealing with difficult situations and managing people. That goes back to the crux of the argument about good people management, which has been behind all the conversation we have had today. If we were better at managing people—and we have lots of advice and guidance on how to do that better—we would not have the difficulty of needing to set up a legal framework that makes it more difficult to retain the talent we need. We must ensure that we can manage the talent pipeline better, both at the younger and older ends, or businesses will miss out on the skills that are needed.