Based on Government announcements made in January this year and corresponding ACAS guidance, the almost universally held view was that employers needed to act before 6 April in order to issue notices to employees who are 65 or over to retire on or before the deadline for abolition of the default retirement age on 6 October. The reason for this is that, in order to act fairly under the current (but soon to be phased out) Regulations, an employer must give notice of retirement of at least six months. This allows time for the employee to object to the proposed retirement and for the employer to consider those objections (a necessary part of the process).
However, in an unexpected development which has caused a good deal of consternation, it seems from the draft regulations which have now been published that only those who turn 65 during the period from April to October can be forcibly retired and those already over 65 are already protected.This directly contradicts the previously announced position and it seems from the draft that, as a result, many notices already issued will have to be withdrawn.
The relevant section of the draft regulations reads as follows:
5.—(1) Despite regulations 2 to 4, the provisions mentioned in paragraph (2) continue to have effect in relation to the employment of a person if—
(a) notification in respect of that employment has been given under paragraph 2 or 4 of Schedule 6 to the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 before the date of the commencement of these Regulations, and
(b) that person will attain the age limit during the period that begins with that date and ends with 30th September 2011.
It is difficult to see how the regulations as drafted can conceivably cover those who are already 65 by the commencement of the transitional period. According to the explanatory note the new regulations will come into force on 6 April and that, at least, is consistent with the Government’s previous announcements.