Redundancy and retirement - know your rights at work.

Monday 17 September 2012

The law around retirement has changed so your employer can no longer force you to retire, but they can dismiss you if they have a fair reason to.

They can also make your role redundant so know where you stand and how to get advice on employment issues.

Water bills are rising - but there are ways to make decent savingsBudget for redundancy or retirement

The default retirement age which allowed employers to make people retire when they reached 65, has been abolished, giving older workers more choice about when they stop working.

If you didn’t receive notice from your employer before 6 April 2011, you can’t be made to retire using the default retirement age.

Your employer must have given you between six and 12 months' notice and the possibility of an extension of up to six months through the ‘right to request’ rules  means the latest possible retirement date that could be set using default retirement age is 5th October 2012.

Your employer can only make you retire if this can be objectively justified in the particular circumstances. This is open to challenge at an Employment Tribunal.

The change in the law does not affect the state pension age nor claims of unfair dismissal. 

Age discrimination

Age discrimination at work is unlawful in most types of employment. Employees and workers of any age are protected from age discrimination whether they’re partners of firms, contract workers or in vocational training.

All aspects of your employment, or prospective employment, are protected from age discrimination, including recruitment and dismissal, terms and conditions, promotions, transfers and training.

In some cases an employer may justify different treatment of a worker on age grounds, for example to protect health and welfare. 


Employers must ensure that any redundancy policies don't directly or indirectly discriminate against older workers.

For instance, if your employer identified only part-time workers for redundancy when a large number of those were older workers, then there may be a case of indirect discrimination.

There is no upper or lower age limit on the entitlement of statutory redundancy pay.

Your employer must pay you the statutory minimum redundancy payment even if you're over 65, or after your normal retirement age if this is lower.

Employees aged 65 and over who are made redundant are entitled to:

  • 1.5 weeks’ pay (currently capped at £380 per week) for each year of service in which you were aged 41 or over
  • One week’s pay for each year you were under 41
  • Half a week’s pay for each year you were under 22
  • Up to a maximum of 20 years service  

Flexible working

If you have dependants, you’re entitled to time off to deal with domestic emergencies such as illness or accidents.

If you care for an adult who is your spouse, civil partner or partner, or another relative, or if the person's living in the same house as you, you have the right to ask your employer for flexible working arrangements once a year.

That request must be considered and objective business reason given if it’s refused.

If you feel uncomfortable about discussing work problems with your employer, do seek expert legal advice before the situation escalates into confrontation.  It's also advisable to try and secure a financial safety net with accessible funds should you suddenly find yourslef out of work and out of pocket. 



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