Archive for July, 2010

Get real about getting old

29th July 2010

Yesterday, the government announced consultation on a proposal to scrap the default retirement age (brilliant covered by @mrmikeberry, by the way). All three major parties said they would do this in their election manifestos and the lobby pressure from Age UK and others has been inexorable so this can be of no surprise to anyone who hasn’t been living in a cave for the last year or so. The demographic pressure of the UK’s ageing population make the move surely inevitable and the potential extra tax revenues will be useful for the Treasury. I’ve also heard no moral argument that says its OK to march productive people out of work on an arbitrary date unrelated to their capability to perform, so you can bet that the employer groups were cautiously welcoming of the news that they no longer have to manage those complex retirement consultations, right?

200X100_storeman-holding-boxSadly, no. The BBC quoted a CBI spokesman talking about “many unresolved problems” in the proposals and the CBI’s website talks about the “complex legal and employment” questions raised. The EEF go further, complaining that their members have “little or no time” to adjust their policies and procedures before the proposed October 2011 implementation (my emphasis) and moaning about what they see as contradictory messages from a government which wants them to create work for young people at the same time as making it harder for them to shepherd older ones off the premises. Both employer groups, previous vociferous advocates for the removal of swathes of red tape, are implicitly or explicitly asking for codes of practice, new legislation and detailed guidance to fill what the CBI call a ‘vacuum” left behind by the scrapping of the three and a half year old regulations.

To quote my teenage daughter: “Really? Really, really?” Flexible working exists. Its not just for women with children. Capability dismissals exist as well and they aren’t just for the people that shouldn’t have been hired in the first place. There are established legal tools available to deal with those employees who aren’t capable of contributing full time beyond their 65th year. For those that want to and can work on, it only takes a little management imagination to get the best from them – perhaps they can even train all those apprentices that the EEF are so concerned about. I’m sure that the legal profession will turn this into another ‘world cup time off’ marketing campaign but rather suspect that some less hysterical reflection will make everyone calm down and see the good sense that the proposal represents.