Sunday, 17 April 2011

Happy retirement?

I just posted an article on my website about the latest state of play with the abolition of the default retirement age.

It’s still going to be possible to dismiss fairly on the grounds of age but only with objective justification.  The informed view is that this will be too difficult for most employers so the answer is likely to lie in improved appraisal and performance management systems.

It’s all logical.  If in the course of getting older, people become less capable they face the consequences of that in the same way as their younger counterparts.

And if despite apparently advancing years there is no impact or they just get better at what they do, there should be no issue.

But aren't we missing something here?  I bet the majority of people have always accepted – and many of them gladly so – that they will retire at a certain age.  Those that do not want to put their feet up take other jobs anyway. B&Q springs to mind as a champion of the more mature workforce.

But 65 or whatever age it may have been will no longer represent a milestone, an achievement, an exit from the rat race.

It may be at about the same time, later, or it could well be sooner that senior staff find themselves told that it’s time to go because they are no longer capable – just to add to growing fears that it might be so.

How does that reconcile with the concept of dignity at work? Surely there is still much to be said for the carriage clock and party instead of being quietly ushered out with mutterings of “past it”.

Pat on the back - or tap on the shoulder?

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